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October 31, 2011. And there goes another month. As you know, I've made a few boo-boos over the past few years... Bluey and then Das Busse. And what happens? Up pops a Toyota camper in great nick, reduced for quick sale @ $8500 and it's just down the road from me right here in Taree. Thank you very much. Problem is, I'm unprepared. How's that for great timing? TX Greg found the link and sent it to me.

How-bloody-ever, I couldn't resist phoning the bloke. Turns out he lives at Old Bar. He said he looked everywhere for a decent van and most of them were "junk" at the price he was prepared to pay. He finally found this one and bought it for $10K. But I guess the novelty has worn off and he has no further use for it. He says he wants to buy another car. He'll be in Sydney until Saturday so that gives me a bit of time to sell DB and figure out how I can scrape the rest of the bucks together. Maybe I can get a bridging loan from Averil until I sell Bluey. Hmmm. Juggle, juggle, think, think. However, my luck is improving... just got a note to say I won a free ticket in the Jackpot Lottery. Hehe.

Meanwhile, DB is attracting quite a lot of interest and inquiries from potential buyers. One girl from the Central Coast wanted to know if she could drive it back home. No, darling, it's unregistered. A bloke from Victoria wanted to do the same thing. Tomorrow is the final day of the auction. If bidding doesn't reach the reserve, I'm not sure what I'll do. However, I've decided not to keep DB whatever happens.

NC Art wrote and told me this amusing story: I recall a brother in  law's 40th birthday party which included a gathering of the clan plus friends. As the mob collected at his house, John asked a bloke to move his vehicle a ways down the street. Why? Because it was embarrassing to have a motor rig that costs more than his home parked in front. We rode to the country club in style, but the owner of said wheels had to stop for gasoline. He pumped in 75 gallons and still the tank was not full. Whufff! The rolling palace had more equipment in it than Air Force One, the president's airplane.

Betty and Prince Phillip departed Oz a few days ago after the end of CHOGM in Perth. The locals put on a big outdoor barbie for the royal couple as a parting gesture, Aussie style, and invited lots of commoners. Phillip was wandering around the grounds checking out the scene when he passed by a bloke with bangers sizzling on a barbie. "Are you sure I can't interest you in a barbecued sausage?" the cook asked. Hehe. Phillip shook his head and wandered off again. I don't blame him really... another name for Aussie bangers is "mystery bags". I suspect the Prince knew there was something better suited to the royal palate waiting on board the royal jet.

NC Art sent a clip of the Marx Bros - Marco & Chico in a comic piano duet, which I also found on Youchewb. If Art went back much further he'd be telling me about apples and serpents.

Beeb time: Qantas will resume flights on Monday after an independent tribunal ordered a permanent end to the industrial dispute with its union members. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline will resume flights by mid-afternoon on a limited schedule. The move comes after Fair Work Australia issued a ruling, after hearing evidence from the airline, unions and the government. I suspect Joyce knew this would happen when he called for the stoppage. Hehe. He's Irish ya know. An unseasonable snowstorm hits the US East Coast, killing at least six people and leaving more than three million homes without electricity. I guess all you northern hemisphericals are only too aware of that. A Palestinian is killed in a new Israeli air strike in Gaza, hours after Egypt apparently brokered a ceasefire between the two sides. It's a bit like brokering a peace deal between dogs and cats. The trial of Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak is postponed until the end of the year, as alleged victims' lawyers call for the judge to be replaced. I reckon you might have to get a judge from another planet if you want someone who's impartial. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned of an "earthquake" if the West intervenes in his country. In a rare interview with the UK's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Mr Assad said involvement risked transforming Syria into "another Afghanistan". The UN has renewed its call for the repression to end, and China has warned Syria the situation cannot continue. Remember Col. Gaddafi's warnings before his overthrow? David Cameron has threatened to withhold UK aid from governments that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality. The UK prime minister said he raised the issue with some of the states involved at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. Read the full article here. Russia has not put its clocks back for winter this year, after President Dmitry Medvedev decided the country would stay permanently in summertime. Mr Medvedev announced his decision in March, saying it was in order to relieve the stress of changing clocks. Silly Russians. You don't have to change the clocks, you only have to change the time! Gaddafi died a disappointed and bitter man. Oh really? An interesting article you can read here

Interest in Das Busse is hotting up with lots of questions and a couple of requests for my phone number. Just now I started DB and it responded first go despite sitting there for months. I'm letting it idle for a while to charge up the battery a bit. One day to go (about 2pm tomorrow) when I'll know if I've got a bunch of wankers or if they're fair dinkum. There's still only one bid and it's a grand below the reserve. One bloke who wrote just wanted to say he got ripped off too by a seller who failed to disclose the true condition of the van. But he's pretty handy and decided to keep it and do a lot of the restoration work himself. He's not interested in buying DB but he wished me luck hehe. If I manage to raise the dough to buy the camper at Old Bar I'll be as poor as a church mouse, but at least I'll have my little house on wheels REGISTERED FOR 12 MONTHS!

Just got a call from a bloke in South Oz who's willing to have DB transported over there, and he's willing to deposit two-ish grand directly into my bank account. He reckons PayPal will take $150 if he pays that way. Hmmm. He was prepared to buy now but I said I'd leave the auction to run its course. I'm playing hard to get. Hehe. So lemme see... I've got about 3 grand, plus 2-ish for DB, I can borrow a grand from my pension income so that's six. Bluey's worth at least 2 grand so that's 8-ish... enough to buy the Toyota camper at Old Bar! Yeah? Jeez, what a squeeze!

One thing that bothered me a little bit about the new van is the rear side window on the driver's side. If you enlarge the pic it looks like the tint film has bubbled a bit. Otherwise the van looks great. And it has solar plus an independent deep cycle battery! TX Greg is never gonna let me forget this ya know.

So does this mean I'm gonna rush out into the wild blue yonder and begin the Odyssey? Not quite yet. I need to save a bit more to have a cash reserve in case I get into trouble. Meantime I'll have regular daily transport and the means to do a couple of mini Odysseys locally... maybe a few overnighters just to get into the rhythm of the rugged outdoor life - eating witchety grubs, fending off hoards of cannibals and that sort of thing. One place I'd like to visit for a few days is Crowdy Bay which is not far from here. 

I decided to phone Averil and run the deal past her knowing I'd get the usual "now make sure you do this, and make sure you do that, and don't do anything before yadda yadda". But at least she knows the score, so if I need to ask her for a bridging loan while I sell Bluey she knows what to expect. Women!

Well, I guess that's enough excitement for one day. All I have to worry about now is whether or not the new van sells before I can get my sticky fingers on it. It's had almost 800 views so far and it's only been listed 2 days. Gary

October 30, 2011. TX Greg doesn't like wind-up campers but Oregon Richie disagrees. That's what I like... a bit of a barney to liven things up a bit. My past experience with tent-trailer designs had been pretty good.  I encountered little problem with the crank systems and can't recall any failures and just recalled that a lot of companies put a lifetime warranty on them.  Most problems with were basically just-in new products, but the basic systems and quality of the tent design seemed very durable.  I sold some that were well over 20 years old and if any had fiberglass panels THAT might have been cracked and weak but the rest seemed pretty decent.

A wind-up camper or tent trailer or whatever you wanna call it ain't my preferred option, but it remains an option nonetheless. Just because I leave my driveway in a particular kinda rig doesn't mean I'm stuck with it forever. I can change my mind en route. Meanwhile, Greg and Richie do agree that RV prices in Oz are way too expensive compared to their US counterparts. Richie reckons prices here are about double what they are over there, and Greg sent a couple of links: Here is one really sweet 2001 camper with A/C & loo and it's only $9,995....

That rig would be 30K here... easy. Here's another link sent by Greg to an Oregon dealer who specializes in vans, and who does his thing on Youchewb.

I suspect the price differential between Oz and the US is due to population. Compare 350m to 22m. Hello? There would be far more competition as well as choice in the US. A similar situation exists between Oz and New Zealand. The Kiwis pay a lot more for their vehicles than we do.

Late yesterday, Qantas grounded its entire fleet in response to strike action by a number of unions. It was described as a surprise announcement and a shock move but I didn't think so. I fully expected it. The union demands are making it impossible for Qantas to operate. One spokesman for a Perth newspaper said Qantas's operating costs are 25% higher than some of its overseas competitors, and yet the unions are demanding higher wages. The government was initially reticent to step in but it's changed its mind. In my view, you can't work for an airline that doesn't exist, so the unions would do well to consider the fate of their members if the company folds (or is bought by an overseas interest).

Now here's an idea... a Toyota same model as DB with a pop top selling for $3000. It looks in pretty good nick. Rip out the interior, fit DB's interior, sell what's left of DB to a wrecker, sell the excess camping gear and fittings from the new one, sell Bluey and whammo... rust-free van with a proper fitout. There's only one problem... I just phoned the bloke and it sold yesterday. Oh well... here we go again.

Beeb time: A Taliban suicide bomber has rammed an explosives-laden car into a bus carrying members of the International Security Assistance Force in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing 17 people. The Isaf personnel - eight civilians and five soldiers - were all American, the Pentagon says. Canada says one of its soldiers died. Three Afghan civilians and a police officer were also killed - in what is one of the worst ground attacks against foreign troops since 2001. The rest of us are at a disadvantage because we're sane. Australian airline Qantas grounds all flights with immediate effect over an industrial dispute, stranding thousands of passengers worldwide. Relations between the unions and Qantas management started deteriorating in August after the airline announced plans for restructuring and moving some operations to Asia. The restructuring is expected to mean the loss of 1,000 jobs from its 35,000-strong workforce. Go figure. An unseasonable snowstorm hits the US East Coast, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a winter storm warning. Condolences from Oz where it's sunny and warm. A man in Argentina who built his house and furniture out of plastic bottles has been so successful that he is now teaching other people how to do the same. Alfredo Santa Cruz survived during Argentina's economic crash in 2001 by sorting through rubbish heaps in search of items he could sell but now he has found a new way of making a living. Check out the video

Ohio Jace sent a cute Halloween e-card where you click on various objects and get all kinds of animation, like crows, a scarecrow, bats and spooky ghosts. It was very good. Thanks, Jace.

Were you referring to Ruth Buzzi (on Waffle)? I think she played the little old lady. JoAnne Worley was the loud mouth, maybe you meant her. The show had a lot of funny ladies including the still beautiful Goldie Hawn. Yes, it did... a great show. Jace also reminisced about the son of his mate at work who was killed in Iraq. A local newspaper published a story about another local lad who was killed recently in Afghanistan, that brought a lot of sad memories back to the surface for Jace. Yes, the sadness never really goes away, and the ripple effect goes far beyond those who lose their lives.

On the subject of unions, Jace supports the good work they do: Peeps are blaming Unions for our troubles over here too. If not for a Union I would not be living like I am now, probably would have starved to death years ago. I agree that one side should not have all the power but in the case of Qantas the unions are going too far. If their demands make the company uncompetitive, nobody wins and everybody loses. And I bet if you walked into the homes of those union bosses you'd find lots of goodies made in China. You can't have your cake and eat it too, as they say.

Just about to whizz up the road for a few groceries and guess what? Rumble, rumble, boom, boom. There's thunder outside. Sheesh. An hour ago the sun was shining and it was glorious!

BACK! The storm was a bit of a fizzle with hardly any rain. The young bloke at the checkout is seriously short sighted and has to stare just inches from the screen to see what's going on. I've spoken to him before. This time I asked him how he deals with watching TV at home and he said he sits on the floor about a foot or so away from the screen. "So you block everyone else's view?" I laughed. "Yeah, but I just tell 'em to get over it."

Here's Dave Allen with some great standup, teaching a kid how to read the time. One more... Dave Allen on religion.

God obviously wasn't happy with the piddly thunder storm we had earlier so he has sent another one. Meanwhile, it's time to do the domestics and feed the zoo. Gary

October 29, 2011. TX Greg wrote: In all my years in the RV biz I've never liked tent campers. Way more problems than Das-Busse. Where the lift bars attach to roof is always a major leak area and now your not talking rust but wood rot. That area will rot out to a point the lift bar bolt pulls out. I've seen the cables for the top lift bars break causing the top to come crashing down on your head. And every time you see a little storm coming get it cranked down so it doesn't blow over. Sure they're easy to tow and set-up but for that price why not just buy a tent???

Last time I looked inside a tent there wasn't a lot in there. Hehe. It's not just the tent you gotta set up, it's everything that goes inside... and if I'm only gonna camp overnight in some place, I don't wanna spend half the night doing it. Apart from that, I prefer something that's off the ground. Ultimately, it wouldn't matter what I bought, it'd be a compromise one way or another. Nothing's perfect. But I appreciate the info, Greg, and if I do get a pop-up camper I'll be sure to check the struts.

Life would be so much simpler if I didn't have this crazy idea... or if I had plenty of dough. Another 8 grand on top of what I paid for DB could have gotten me something like this.

When I did Averil's shopping yesterday, there was a woman in front of me at the checkout. After she paid her account, and all her groceries were in her trolley, she whipped out her mobile/cell phone to make a call, and stood there while she chatted to someone. Thanks very much. My trolley had nowhere to go, and I couldn't move out of the way of the next customer. SOME people. But when I mentioned it to the checkout chick, she took umbrage because the person on the phone was a friend of hers. *Sigh*

Meanwhile, I found a series of pics on a newsgroup this morning that I thought were worth uploading... a 1918 Chevrolet in original condition.

Beeb time: International prosecutors have had "informal contact" with the son of slain ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The International Criminal Court (ICC) said it had held talks - through intermediaries - with Saif al-Islam about his possible surrender. Prosecutors stressed that Gaddafi's son, who is wanted for crimes against humanity, would get a fair trial. Saif al-Islam, who was once the presumed successor to his father, has been in hiding for months. Fancy being unfortunate enough to be born the son of a lunatic. At least 37 people have been killed in crackdowns during protests calling for the downfall of the government held across Syria after Friday prayers. The deaths took place mostly in Homs and Hama as protesters called for a no-fly-zone to be imposed, activists said. Despite the threat of violence, at least 170 protests took place on Friday, the traditional day of protest. More than 3,000 people have died in the unrest since protests broke out in March. I suppose the prayers are akin to a psych-up session before the match. Sons and daughters of any future UK monarch will have equal right to the throne, after Commonwealth leaders agreed to change succession laws. The leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state unanimously approved the changes at a summit in Perth, Australia. It means a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would take precedence over younger brothers. The ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic was also lifted. Catching up with the times. Benny take note. A stuntman has died and another has been seriously injured on the set of Sylvester Stallone's film sequel The Expendables 2 in Bulgaria. The stuntman, who has not been named, died while performing a stunt which involved an explosion. The second injured man is reported to have undergone surgery and is in a critical condition in hospital. Police have launched an investigation into Thursday's accident which happened 15 miles outside the capital Sofia. I wonder how that will affect the success of the movie.

A potential buyer of DB just asked a few questions about oil leaks, water leaks, 12 volt system, etc. I'm glad he did cos I'd forgotten to include that info. The radiator was reconditioned in 2008. And there are no oil or water leaks. One bid so far with 3 days to go. The bid hasn't reached the reserve yet ($2000) but it's early days, and the real action usually doesn't happen until a few hours before the auction expires. If I get $2500 or thereabouts I'll be happy even though I'll have lost a grand on what I paid. That money will go back into savings and I'll go from there.

The thing about advertising an auction for a week (usually with little or no action until the final stages) is that it provides more time to attract potential buyers. So far there have been about 500 lookers. I only need two or three serious bidders to stimulate a bit of competition.

Meanwhile, it's all a bit depressing. Way too much buggerizing around and not enough action. Gary

October 28, 2011. So here I am again, back to checking out used campers and whatever on the net. Hehe. One of the ads said "some surface rust but nothing to worry about". Yeah, right. I won't fall for that one again. The last time I believed that crap I was quoted $6000 to fix it. For that kinda money I could buy something like this.

Not sure what this is all about... some kind of magical light show. NC Art sent the link. Wait for the initial ads to pass then watch the show on the facade of a building in Berlin.

Back from Averil's shopping. BOOOOOORING!!! Remember that funny lady from Laugh-In who used to say BOOOORING in an operatic voice? Ruth somebody. I've always loved the way she did that. Anyway, Averil gave me a $2 tip. Sheesh. She's still living in the 50s.

Beeb time: A 13-year-old boy has been pulled alive from the rubble in south-eastern Turkey, 108 hours after an earthquake devastated his town. The injured boy was rescued from a collapsed building in Ercis. Just hours earlier a man was freed from a flattened apartment block and taken to hospital. But officials say hopes are fading of finding more survivors after Sunday's 7.2-magnitude quake, which killed at least 523 people. So far 185 people have been rescued but hundreds are still missing. Everyone loves a miracle. It takes their minds off the devastation. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says allowing Greece into the eurozone was a "mistake" at the time, while Athens denies causing the debt crisis. Good ol' hindsight. Hehe. I know the feeling. The UN Security Council votes to end seven months of international military action in Libya, carried out under a mandate to protect civilians. Okay, so now it's up to the rebels to get their act together. Let's hope they can. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has opened a Commonwealth summit in Perth, amid tight security in Australia's city. The 54-nation organisation - which represents some 2bn people around the globe - will discuss economic growth, climate change and human rights. 2bn? I hadn't realized it was that many. A daily dose of aspirin should be given to people at high risk of bowel cancer, say scientists. I've been taking it for years as a blood thinner and anti-clotting agent. Australia has unveiled the world's largest gold coin, weighing in at a massive 1,000kg. The Perth Mint produced it in time for Queen Elizabeth's visit to the city in Western Australia for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting. The coin has a kangaroo on one side and the Queen's profile on the other. It is nearly 80cm in diameter and 12cm thick. Perth Mint CEO Ed Harbuz said making it was "an incredible challenge, one which few other mints would even consider". The Australian coin is five times heavier than the world's previous largest gold coin, made by the Royal Canadian Mint. "We thought well, we'd better make it so much bigger that it'll stay the biggest coin in the world for a long time," Mr Harbuz said. Australia's coin is 99.99% pure and has a nominal value of A$1,000,000 ($1,061,000; £663,000). The gold itself is worth more than A$50m. Imagine handing that to the checkout chick for a $5 purchase and asking for change. Hehe. Gold prospecting in Australia comes back into fashion. In creeks and hollows that were once the focus of a 19th Century gold rush, modern-day prospectors have come in search of their fortunes. Nugget by nugget. Speck by tiny speck. Four hours' drive inland from Sydney, over the Great Dividing Range that separates this vast continent, the scenery is classic Australian bush. A most interesting article about the "new" gold rush. If I ever get this damn Odyssey happening I'll be taking a bit of poke around as well! Volkswagen (VW) has said its net profit more than tripled in the third quarter as demand surged for its vehicles. Nine months into the year, VW has already exceeded its annual profit for the whole of 2010. Net profits jumped to 7.2bn euros ($10.1bn; £6.3bn), from 2.2bn euros in the same period last year. From the humble Beetle to one of the most successful companies in the world. Bloody amazing. The Taliban in Afghanistan have issued an unprecedented condolence statement on the death of a top right-wing Pakistani politician. Maulana Abdul Ghani died in a car crash on 26 October in the southern Pakistani province of Balochistan. It is the first time that the Taliban have publicly admitted receiving help from members of Pakistan's ruling establishment. Pakistan's leadership has always denied any links to the Taliban. Methinks me smelleth a rat. Qantas has said the ongoing strikes by members of three unions are costing the airline 15m Australian dollars ($16m; £12m) per week. Workers have been striking against Qantas' plans to restructure the airline, a move that is expected to result in almost 1,000 job cuts. Industrial action by the members has resulted in the cancellation of 129 flights and delayed another 387. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce warned the costs may escalate further. "This drawn out and coordinated industrial campaign by these three unions is now having a major impact on Qantas," Mr Joyce said. Ansett is gone. TAA is gone. Is Qantas next? 

Yes, it's all very well for workers to demand higher wages, better conditions and job security but when a company is competing on an international playing field the rules are determined by the market, not Australian workers. If 1000 jobs have to go it'll be a lot less than what goes if the company folds. Meanwhile, the government is about to step in and sort out the mess. Unions stuffed the British auto industry. Let's hope the same thing doesn't happen to Qantas.

I've been feeling a bit brain dead lately... probably due to the Das Busse thing and going almost back to square one. Oh well... Meanwhile, it's THAT time again. Bacon, eggs and chips. And then a bit of telly. Gary

October 27, 2011. Pay day, bills paid, yadda, yadda... another swing on the merry-go-round. BTW, I got an update on how my little bloke in Nicaragua is doing. Anyel is 11.2 kilos now (about 20 pounds), and he'll be 3 next January. He likes to play with toy cars so he'll end up another revhead like Oregon Richie. The really important news is that he and his family are in good health, he has had all his immunization shots, and they've just had outhouses installed so they "don't have to do our physiological needs outdoors". They speak Spanish over there so a World Vision staffer helps them with letters and translations, etc. According to his latest photo, Anyel is still as grumpy as ever. Hehe. I don't think he likes having his photo taken.

I told you Oregon Richie was a revhead. He just sent this link to some extraordinary footage of highlights of the 2003 Paris Dakar rally through the desert. Those drivers have to be nuts, but the footage is mind blowing.

Here's another of Richie's links... the Pan Am Pacific Clipper (flying boat) that had to be rerouted from it's trip to New Zealand after news of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor arrived, and America was at war. It's called The Long Way Home.

Beeb time: Eurozone leaders agree a "three-pronged" deal, including a 50% cut in Greek debts, which they say is key to easing region's economic crisis. Ooer! A menage a trois! A five-day evacuation holiday begins in the Thai capital Bangkok, allowing thousands of people to flee as flood waters approach. I've never experienced anything like that and I hope I never do. Former Argentine naval officer Alfredo Astiz - known as the "Blonde Angel of Death" - is jailed for life for torture and murder during military rule. Isn't it amazing what a twisted mind is capable of doing? The Turkish Red Crescent says 17 lorries carrying aid for survivors of Sunday's deadly earthquake have been looted. Makes you wonder what you would do yourself if you were desperate to feed yourself and your loved ones. The wife of jailed US financial swindler Bernard Madoff admits to CBS that the couple attempted suicide after his $65bn fraud scheme was exposed. Which goes to prove that being exposed was more embarrassing than the crime itself. The head of Libya's transitional authorities has called for Nato to extend its mission in Libya until the end of the year. National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the extension was needed to help Libyans trying to control surplus weapons and to deal with Gaddafi loyalists. Yes, lots of loonies running around with guns is not a good idea. Income inequality in the US has sharply increased in recent decades, a bipartisan analysis has revealed. The Congressional Budget Office said income had trebled for the richest 1% between 1979 and 2007. Meanwhile, a major poll shows anxiety for the future is high, with a majority saying the US is "on the wrong track". The findings emerged as police used tear gas and mass arrests to force Occupy Wall Street protesters out of their camps in Atlanta and Oakland. I'm certainly no expert in these matters but it seems to me that the rich getting richer is not a problem provided the poor don't get poorer in the process. A man from one of India's poorest states has become the first person to win a $1m jackpot on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Sushil Kumar, a computer operator and tutor from the eastern state of Bihar, took home the top prize on popular game show Kaun Banega Crorepati. The winner's brother, Sudhir Kumar, said he was well-prepared for the show. He said the reason that Mr Kumar was so informed was that he was a regular listener to the BBC's Hindi service. "I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could do this," he said. The 27-year-old, who was married five months ago, earns a monthly salary of less than $150 (£93.75). Good on him... well deserved indeed. And congrats to the Beeb for offering such a great service. A message in a holy water bottle which was thrown overboard by a Titanic victim while the ship sank has now been donated to a heritage centre in Cork by his family. Jeremiah Burke, 19, from Glanmire in Cork was given the bottle at the quayside in Cobh by his mother before he set off for the US. As the Titanic sank in the early hours of 15 April, 1912, he threw the bottle and message into the sea. The bottle was washed ashore a year later in Dunkettle, only a few miles from his family home. The note, which read "From Titanic, goodbye all, Burke of Glanmire, Cork" has remained in the Burke family for nearly a century. What a terrible fate for a young man. Click here for a photo of the note. At the end of the Korean War, thousands of prisoners from both sides faced a choice - whether to return home or remain with their captors. David Hawkins was one of a handful of American GIs who chose to go to China. A most interesting article. US efforts to reach out to Iran have been hurt by confusion over who is running the country, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told BBC Persian. "We're not quite sure who makes decisions anymore inside of Iran," she said. Mrs Clinton said that she believes the country is morphing into a military dictatorship. It's a worry. And so is Hillary's hair. Forty years ago, a London publisher was working on a groundbreaking sex manual - a "gourmet guide" to sexual pleasure, with copious and detailed illustrations. But how could this be done tastefully and legally? Think of The Joy of Sex and chances are your mind will drift to an image of a man with a bushy beard and a woman with hairy armpits. Another most interesting article

And that's it I'm afraid... a shorty today. Gary

October 26, 2011. DB's ad on eBay is attracting a lot of interest - probably 99% tire kickers. Hopefully, someone who's able to do a lot of the work themselves will come along and get themselves a bargain project. What irks me is that I've wasted a lot of money on both Bluey and DB. If I'd kept TT and saved all that money, I could have enough now to buy something decent. Oh well, as Will Rogers said, good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.

NC Art forwarded a bunch of Will Rogers' quotes. A couple I really like are: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. And... Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Meanwhile, it's back to the drawing board. It is possible to keep Bluey and tow something like this for three or four grand. It would mean limited access to some out-of-the-way places. On the other hand it would double my carrying capacity. Here's another one for a bit over two grand. Or there's something like this for about 20 grand. I think I'm back to being just as confused as ever.

Beeb time: European leaders are to meet in an emergency summit in Brussels to finalise details of a plan designed to tackle the eurozone debt crisis. I suppose a federation of states with a central government like the USA and Oz is out of the question. An aftershock has been blamed for sparking a riot in a Turkish prison in the eastern city of Van, one of the places worst hit by Sunday's devastating earthquake. The trouble at the Van prison is reported to have begun when a strong aftershock of 5.4 magnitude caused panic among the inmates. Prisoners set fire to the jail and fought their guards because authorities refused to let them out, reports say. A most difficult situation indeed, and I can empathize with the prisoners' fears and frustration. Boeing's Dreamliner jet is set for its maiden commercial flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong, after three years of delays. Seems like supersonic flight a la Concorde is no longer on the agenda. Probably too expensive and not enough bums on seats. Profits at the online retailer Amazon have dropped 73% after the company invested heavily in the Kindle tablet computer. Well, mine haven't even started yet. The bodies of ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Mutassim and a top aide have been buried in secret in the desert, Libyan officials say. A National Transitional Council (NTC) official told the BBC the bodies were buried at dawn in an unknown location. This follows days of apparent uncertainty among the new leadership about what to do with the bodies. Gaddafi's family wanted them buried outside the former leader's hometown of Sirte. NTC leaders had expressed a preference for a secret burial. Not exactly what the Colonel had in mind. The last of America's most powerful Cold War-era nuclear bombs - the B53 - has been dismantled in Texas. Experts have separated around 300lb (136kg) of high explosives from the bomb's uranium "pit". Weighing 10,000lb, the B53 was the size of a minivan and said to be 600 times more destructive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. Imagine that... 600 Hiroshimas. Is that scary or what? Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has unveiled a plan to reform the tax code and cut US spending. The Texas governor said his plan centres on a flat, voluntary tax rate of 20% for incomes and companies. The plan, called "Cut, Balance and Grow" will simplify the tax code so Americans can "file their taxes on a postcard", Mr Perry said. I've long thought a flat tax is a good idea but I'm certainly no expert in such matters. The US and North Korea have failed to reach a deal on resuming international negotiations on the North's nuclear programme, after two days of talks. US negotiator Stephen Bosworth said the meeting in Geneva had been positive. But he said there was a long history of differences between them, which could not easily be overcome. Yes... you only have to look at a picture of Kim Jong-il to see what the difference is. A rare white wombat has been nursed back to health, in Ceduna, Australia, after being found alone and unwell a month earlier, according to local media. Funny little dude. Check out the vid

Way way back in 1971 when I was the greatest radio announcer God ever created (at least that's what I thought at the time - no, not really) there was a bloke named Bill Withers who sang a song that I still love to this day. Ain't No Sunshine

It's late! And the chicken schnitzels are in the pan, and the corn is bubbling away in the pot! Gotta go. Gary

October 25, 2011. Check out this pic of a "whole" 300m-ton iceberg (top and bottom) on Justin's Blog.

NC Art sent this pic of Miss Kentucky not knowing how to hold a stuffed bear while also holding a microphone. How embarrassing.

Last weekend, Brisbane held its annual Zombie Walk where people get dressed up in ghoulish outfits for the occasion. My Red Bubble mate William Bullimore was there to capture some of the action. Check out the guy holding the dead rat.

Stan the Lawn Man is here mowing merrily away despite the showers. So we chatted for a while and he gave me heaps about Das Busse again. Standing out in the weather is not doing the old girl any good and she's deteriorating. Some of the rust is getting worse and I'm nowhere near close to getting it fixed. Soooo... she's gotta go. It'll mean a loss but so be it. The bloke who sold it to me painted a rosy picture on eBay and I fell for it. By the time I saw DB in the "flesh" it was too late to turn back. My bad, as the Yanks say. Somebody with a bit of handyman nous could probably restore DB to reasonable condition without spending a fortune. But that ain't me.

Okies, I've been fiddling around with an ad on eBay for a hour or so, so that's it. DB has to go. I don't want anyone to fall into the same trap I did so I've told it like it is. It won't appeal to most people but I don't need most people. Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Beeb time: The Turkish government pledges more aid, as thousands spend a second night in freezing conditions after Sunday's earthquake, which killed at least 279. And we think we've got problems. United States diplomats have said that the first day of direct talks being held with North Korea in Geneva was useful. The talks are aimed at restarting negotiations on nuclear disarmament. It is the second such meeting in less than three months. Chief US negotiator Stephen Bosworth said the talks were moving in a positive direction. I hope so. The alternative doesn't sound too flash. The bodies of 53 Gaddafi loyalists have been found at a hotel in the Libyan city of Sirte after apparently being executed, a human rights group says. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the victims - some of whom had their hands bound - died about a week ago. It is the latest accusation of atrocities in Libya committed by both sides during the eight-month conflict. If nobody gave a shit about the death of Gaddafi, why would they care about the death of his loyalists? A highway in the US state of Utah was temporary closed after a lorry carrying at least 20m bees overturned, freeing the insects. The bees were being transported to California, ready to pollinate an almond crop next spring. Interstate 15 was closed down for several hours while local beekeepers worked overnight to recapture the bees. "The driver lost control, hit the concrete barrier and rolled over," said Corporal Todd Johnson of the Utah Highway Patrol. "Of course, we then had bees everywhere." Panic time. Two Russian families are united by a terrible event more than a decade ago. Their newborn daughters were accidentally mixed up in the maternity hospital and grew up with the "wrong" parents. A very sad story that I hope eventually has a happy ending. Read the article here. A single malt distilled in one of Scotland's most remote distilleries has been named the world's best whisky by a leading expert. Old Pulteney was crowned World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray's 2012 Whisky Bible. The 21-year-old single malt scored a record-equalling 97.5 points out of 100. The whisky is matured in American oak casks and bottled at the Pulteney distillery in Wick, Caithness. Whisky expert Mr Murray tasted more than 1,200 new drams before deciding on the winner. Hehe. And he gets paid for that? Actually, it's interesting because the next street up from mine is Pulteney and I've always thought it was a strange name. Now I know where it came from - Scotland. Mark Post has been given €300,000 to make a hamburger, in one year. Easy money, you might think, but try doing that without using meat that has come from an animal. An interesting article about how we might grow meat in factories instead of on farms

The day has flown, mainly because of the DB thing. It's been on my mind for a while. Oh well... Time to feed the inmates. Gary

October 24, 2011. I watched part 2 of the history of the motor car in Oz last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. It brought back memories of drive-in movies, squealing tires off traffic lights, sex in the back seat and all that cool stuff. So I spent a while looking for suitable material on Youchewb but couldn't find anything. Drat. There was a great segment about a woman who drove an early '50s model Austin A40 in a Redex Trial over some of Australia's most inhospitable country and roughest outback roads and returned to Sydney in one piece. Her philosophy was if it ain't broke, don't fix it, so she just kept driving and daren't check under the bonnet/hood in case anything was wrong. Peugeot 203s and VW Beetles did well in those early rallies.

Anyway, it was a great show. I love all that historic stuff about motor cars and how they impacted on life in Oz. One bloke was reminiscing about his youth and how he and his mates drove around the town block on Saturday nights checking out the chicks. "We didn't go anywhere, we just drove around the block for a couple of hours." Yes, I remember those days very well. Hehe.

NC Art had this to say about my Bic mechanical pencil: Seems your Bic writing instrument is a gussied up version of a plainer device, like see thru barrel, rubber grip and refillable. I use the commoners' version: no special grip, three leads and non refillable--I think. A pack of ten for $3,50 in grocery stores. Bic is an international company founded by one Baron Marcal Bich in France. To forestall being called The Bitch the products are patented BIC. The French societe bought the American Waterman Pen Company to operate an American subsidiary for making all manner of reusable gadgets such as a cigarette lighter instead of a friction match. Ain't that wonderful?

And non-reusable as well... throw-away stuff like BIC shavers and ballpoints. I still use a Shaeffer electro-plated gold ballpoint made in the USA given to me for my 42nd birthday 25 years ago. I think I've only used one refill so obviously I prefer using a keyboard. But the ink still flows nicely even after all those years. It's funny ya know - because I'm a writer, people keep giving me PENS even though I rarely used them. HANDY HINT: If your ballpoint ink fails to run, hold the refill under running hot water for a few minutes.

As to the rail tunnel proposed to run between the US and Russia under the Bering Straits, Art wonders what could be traded: Native Alaska tribe folk are great at smoking salmon, making mukluks to keep feet warm, drying strips of beef for chewing (sometimes referred to as squaw candy but liquor is still quicker). While I was musing, I did an international survey of my luncheon fruit bowl. There was cantaloupe from Mexico, blueberries from Canada, banana from Brazil, grapes from California, and pineapple from Hawaii. The milk and oatmeal cookies spread with peanut butter are domestic--I think. Alabama and Georgia grow lots of goobers. Meanwhile Russia has caviar, rockets for launching satellites and Cossack dancers.

Beeb time: A strong quake has shattered buildings near the Turkish city of Van, killing at least 138 people and trapping an unknown number under rubble. Casualties are reported to be particularly high in the town of Ercis, close to the Iranian border, where dozens of buildings fell. Reports spoke of thousands of residents running screaming in the streets. Fears rose of a death toll in the hundreds as rescuers worked into the night to find survivors. Another message from a disgruntled Allah? Libya's transitional leaders declare national liberation before a huge, jubilant crowd in Benghazi, where the revolt against Gaddafi began. Time now to get down to the boring business of living a normal life. Tunisians flock to cast their votes in the first free election of the Arab Spring, nine months after the fall of former President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Out with the old and in with the new. British PM David Cameron clashes with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who says he is "sick" of the UK offering advice on the euro. Hehe. Yes, I suppose it would be rather annoying. But you can understand the Poms not being able to resist having a dig at their neighbors. Italian rider Marco Simoncelli has died after a horrific crash at the Malaysian MotoGP in Sepang. The race was stopped on lap two when Simoncelli's bike veered across the track at turn 11 into the path of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi. The 24-year-old had his helmet knocked off and was hit by both other riders. Simoncelli's death comes a week after British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed in Las Vegas following a 15-car crash. Those guys live on a knife edge, but I guess they know and accept the risk. A hunt is under way off the coast of Western Australia for a Great White shark which killed a US diver. George Thomas Wainwright, 32, from Texas, was diving off Rottnest Island near Perth when he was killed. Fisheries officials have issued a kill order and laid baited hooks in the hope of capturing what is believed to be a 3m (10ft) Great White. I dunno what good that's gonna do. What the hell does a shark know about right and wrong? New Zealand were crowned world champions (in the Rugby Union World Cup final) for the first time in 24 years after squeezing past an inspired France team by a single point. Tony Woodcock's early try and a penalty from fourth-choice fly-half Stephen Donald were enough to see the All Blacks home in an extraordinary match that defied all pre-match predictions. Pretty snazzy for a country with more sheep than people. A soldier who was decorated by the Queen for heroism during the Korean War has met her once again, after nearly 60 years. Arthur Pembroke, 83, met the Queen as she continued her 11-day tour of Australia with a visit to an officer training academy in Canberra. The ex-officer last met the Queen when he received the Military Cross during a Buckingham Palace ceremony in 1953. The monarch chatted to Mr Pembroke during a garden party held following the ceremony. "She impressed me a great deal - and has right from the time I [first] met her," he said. What a lovely story and a wonderful honor for old Arty. Muammar Gaddafi's website, Seven Days News, says it has published the last will of the deceased former leader of Libya. The document was reportedly handed to three of his relatives, one of whom was killed, the second arrested and the third managed to escape the fighting in Sirte. Read the English translation here

When I read the news about the death of another race rider/driver I figured it was only a matter of time before Ohio Jace wrote again, and sure enough he did just now. He's a keen follower of motor racing as are the neighboring kids. They'd arrived earlier to watch the V8 Supercars race live from Australia's Gold Coast. Jace also mentioned the American killed by a shark. He was from Houston.

So now I've got all this Latin stuff rolling around in my head... rhumbas, sambas and whatever. And to make it worse, Oregon Richie sent me a link to Edmundo Ros and his orchestra. Did I tell you I did ballroom dancing as a teen? Oh yes... twinkle toes I was. And the dance school offered me a job teaching ballroom, but I declined cos I was afraid of catching girl germs. I used to attend the Arthur Murray Academy of Dancing. I keep bumping into these damn Arthurs for some reason. Anyway, there's only one way to change the playlist in the brain and that's to listen to a new song. Here's one of my all-time favs by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. This one's for Cody.

Yep, time to head for the kitchen again. Home-made burgers and salad tonight. You'd have to be nutz to buy the ready-made ones from the supermarket. They taste like they're made from old tires. Gary

October 23, 2011. A wonderful tale about a dwarf on a bus from Billy Connolly.

And here's what Billy has to say about people who don't like him.

Did I tell you I use a propelling (mechanical) pencil? Yep. It's a BIC Atlantis. I bought two... couple of bucks each, and they come with a phial of spare graphite refills and erasers. I like making notes in pencil as opposed to ballpoint because pencil can be easily erased. And when the graphite wears down you just click the button at the top and presto, new lead. No messy pencil sharpener and shavings. Cool huh? There's no end to my thrilling anecdotes, ladies and genitals.

Justin was talking about organs (shuddup) and Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale. Then someone said that song was a steal from Bach before J chipped in and said it wasn't a direct copy. Anyway, all this organ (shuddup) stuff got me thinking about my old band days so I checked out Santana's Oye Como Va on Youchewb. It's had over 9m views. But I noticed on the comments that a lot of people were making remarks about race, religion and politics. What? What the hell's that got to do with great music? I guess some bigots will use any excuse to vent their idiotic spleens. By the way, Oye Como Va colloquially means "Hey, how's it going?"

Tito Puente wrote the song back in 1963, and here he is performing it at a jazz festival in 1993.

And remember back in 1961, four blokes dressed in suits and ties came out amongst all the Be Bop A Lula and did a thing called Take Five. One bloke described that sax solo as being as smooth as a dry martini. I remember hearing that tune for the first time on my dad's home-built radiogram. What would we do without Youchewb?

So wot's happening at the Beeb? The commander of forces who captured Muammar Gaddafi has given details of the Libyan ex-leader's last moments. Omran al-Oweib told the BBC that the injured colonel was dragged from a drainage pipe where he was hiding in Sirte, took 10 steps and collapsed amid gunfire on Thursday. He said it was impossible to tell who had fired the fatal bullet. His body - and that of his son Mutassim, who was also killed on Thursday - have been placed in a meat storage facility in the city of Misrata. In an exclusive BBC interview, Mr Oweib said: "I didn't see who killed, which weapon killed Gaddafi." He added that some of his fighters had wanted to shoot the colonel, but that he had sought to keep him alive. After Col Gaddafi collapsed, Mr Oweib said, he drove him to a field hospital where he was pronounced dead. "I tried to save his life but I couldn't," the commander said. I find it curious that many people queued up to view Gaddafi's body are yelling "God is great!" Apparently God is forgiven for being not so great for the past 42 years. UK Chancellor George Osborne declares "real progress" among Europe's finance ministers to beat the eurozone debt crisis. I hope he's right. The Aussie dollar is bouncing up and down like a 'roo on steroids because of the uncertainty. A Great White shark kills an American diver in what is thought to be the second fatal shark attack off western Australia in 12 days. The diver, 32, who has not been named, was diving alone off Rottnest Island near Perth on Saturday. Welcome to my world, said the shark. A night of drinking should be followed by two or three alcohol-free days, according to new advice from doctors in the UK. What? Speak up, doc! I can't hear a bloody word you're saying. Band leader Edmundo Ros, the man credited with popularising Latin American music in the UK, has died at the age of 100. His performances at the Bagatelle Restaurant in London attracted the Royal Family and celebrities of the day, sealing his success. The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, danced her first dance in public to his music. In later years he and his orchestra were often invited to play at Buckingham Palace. Yes, Latin music is for dancers. I can't resist the stuff. Russian officials have backed the idea of a rail tunnel linking Russia and the US. It would run under the Bering Strait for 105km (65 miles) - twice the length of the UK-France Channel Tunnel. The tunnel itself has been estimated to cost $10-12bn and to take 10-15 years to build. How interesting! Oregon Richie, who loves trains, might live to travel from the States to Moscow! Check out the vid here

I can't help myself... gotta include Santana's Evil Ways performed live at Woodstock in 1969. Jeez, I must be getting old. Was it really that long ago?

And remember Rick Wakeman? Wow, could that bloke tickle the ivories or what? Incredible! And what about his Journey To The Center Of The Earth? I have the album on CD with the narration and everything. It's awesome.

Yes, I know... today's Waffle has been a concert with a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. But what the heck. It's all good fun and I wonder how many of you are familiar with the musos I've followed down through the years. Anyway, it's THAT time again, dammit. This cooking gig is a pain in the ass sometimes. Gary

October 22, 2011. Here's a bit of fun from the Two Ronnies about meeting the new neighbors after moving into town. I love all that head-swiveling Corbett does when he's confused.

Justin posted a true story about his great grandfather who one day up and died. A dapper gent was he, and much loved in the town where there was a grand turn-out for the funeral.  And grand it was.  The organist was at his finest.  As they wheeled Old Teddy down the aisle, the clever lad up in the choir loft was improvising at his best - only a few of "the bene addicti" were able to discern the original to today's funeral procession. Indeed, t'was Procol Harum's song  "A whiter shade of pale. . . . ." Justin's dad (who told the story) said it was "hootingly appropriate for so he was."

Apparently, the organist had a cheeky Irish sense of humor and was oft given to spontaneity. One time, while Father was walking up and down the aisle sprinkling holy water on the congregation, the organist launched into Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. Father wasn't amused, and sent the organist packing. The following Sunday, the organist was happily tickling the keys at the church down the road whose pastor recognized real talent when he heard it. And so the legend lived on.

Meanwhile, it seems certain groups in the US, including One Million Moms, are campaigning to keep Ben and Jerry's Schweddy Balls ice cream out of their supermarket freezers because it might upset the little kiddies and lead them astray. TX Greg sent this link.

Ya know, religious and righteous people believe in God, right? And they believe that God created everything, right? So that must include all our wobbly bits. What was God thinking when he created those things? And what was he thinking when Adam first bonked Eve? Believers don't wanna contemplate that. Hehe. It's like contemplating what we did before we invented toilet paper or, indeed, toilets. Or soap. Or toothpaste. Or deodorant.

I was just thinking about the little flat I moved into after my world fell apart in the mid '90s. It was in a block of 8 in Petersham, Sydney. Directly opposite my flat lived a middle age couple. The wife cornered me one day and told me about a local doctor who was stalking her. He would park his Porsche across the road and spy on her apartment. I believed her at first, only to discover after I'd reported the incident to police that she was psycho. Next door to her flat lived Lindsay and Sue. Nuff said. Adjacent to my flat were two young sisters from Borneo, one of whom was desperate to marry an Australian citizen so she could stay in Oz. I thought she was just a friendly girl who loved cooking and sharing her food with me. Hehe. Oops! Down below on the ground floor were a bunch of Fijians who were into drinking lots of karva. But they were okay - although one of them delighted in telling me stories about the old days in Fiji when cannibalism was practiced. Opposite them were two young heroin addicts and thieves. One night, one of them threw metholated spirits over the other and set him alight. Next door to them was a female drug dealer who fitted her flat with lots of barred windows and a security door. And in the fourth downstairs flat was a married couple with a young child. They were okay. Right next door to our building was the Boarding House, a 19th century Victorian mansion where Lindsay worked. All the tenants were psychiatric outpatients. Yep, that was quite an experience... and I'm not sure all that much has changed since.

Mind you I was kinda used to loonies by that stage. My ex biz partner was a psychopath, and most of the people who worked on the TV series were whacko. The bloke who operated a video edit suite in Petersham (which was the reason I moved there) was and still is nuts. Matter of fact, dear Breth, if you were to ask me who I've met in my life that was 100% sane I think I'd have to pass. Hehe. NC Art comes pretty close but even he's not the full quid.

By the way, Oregon Richie made this comment about the demise of Gaddafi: The news about Muammar the Libyan despot is of course not a huge surprise and a bit nauseating as well.  Yep... that's how it ends.  Saddam in his rat-hole, Hitler in his bunker with a cyanide pill and pistol, the shot-up corpse scenes of various South American druglords and warlords, Cambodian killers, NAZI criminals hanging from ropes, and on and on and on.  Begging for mercy, indeed.  I would bet that just infuriated his attackers even more.  Mussolini hanging from wires with his mistress in the streets of Rome.... yeah.  Predictable indeed.  I wonder if NOW the Libyan government... such as it is, will return the infamous Pan Am "Lockerbie" bomber to western gallows if even he's still alive.

Beeb time: Libya's authorities have come under pressure to give a full account of the death of ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi. The US said they should do it in an "open and transparent manner". The UN called for a full investigation, after video footage showed Col Gaddafi captured alive - and then dead. His burial has been delayed with officials divided about what to do with the body. A post-mortem is expected. What an ugly son of a bitch he was with those beady little black eyes. All US troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, President Obama announces, bringing to an end a nine-year military campaign there. I guess that'll take the focus off Afghanistan for a while. Eurozone finance ministers approve the next tranche of Greek bailout funds in a bid to save the country from a potentially disastrous default. As one commentator said, if Europe doesn't stay united it'll go back to the bad old days of everyone hating each other. BP has won approval to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, 18 months after a well blowout killed 11 workers and caused an environmental disaster. Regulators approved plans for drilling to depths of up to 6,000ft about 200 miles off the coast of New Orleans. US officials said in a statement: "Our review of BP's plan included verification of BP's compliance with the heightened standards." The Gulf's Kaskida oilfield could contain up to 3m barrels of crude. Money talks, yeah? So does oil. In November 2010, an Afghan border policeman with an excellent record of service killed six US soldiers as they all sat down for tea during a routine training session. Why did he do it? A study of his life story - and his mobile phone - provides only a few clues. Read the article here. Two US senators have proposed a plan to offer visas for foreigners buying homes worth $500,000 (£314,000) or more. Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican Mike Lee, sponsoring a bill, say it is a move to increase housing demand. "Our housing market will never begin a true recovery as long as our housing stock so greatly exceeds demand. This is not a cure-all, but it could be part of the solution," said Mr Schumer, a Democrat from New York. It's the other way around in Oz. We're about 200,000 homes short. The US Senate has blocked a key piece of President Barack Obama's jobs bill that would have imposed higher taxes on the rich to help create jobs for teachers, police and emergency workers. Senators voted 50-50 on the legislation, 10 short of the 60 votes needed to allow debate on the measure. The proposal is part of Mr Obama's $447bn (£283bn) package designed to kickstart the flagging US economy. If you don't tax the rich, who do you tax? Go figure.

Remember that bloke in Ohio who owned all those exotic animals and set them free before shooting himself? He lived just 30 minutes away from Ohio Jace who says he's been in trouble with the law for years, including a year in prison. Currently in Ohio if you do NOT breed, show, or sell exotic animals in Ohio you do not even have to report ownership of such animals. Your dog needs a license, but not your Lion, or Cheetah, etc. The state can not even tell you where or how many such places there are in the state because they DO NOT know. Sounds like a bit of a worry. If you want to keep a native exotic animal (bears) they have to be registered with the ODNR, which means they have the right to inspect the premises where the animal is to be kept. That does not apply to non-native species (lion, tiger). Remember that pic Oregon Richie sent the other day? Maybe it wasn't taken in Africa... maybe it was taken in Ohio:

Jace goes on to say that the $3m motor home whose link I posted the other day is "ugly enough to scare the mozzies away". Hehe. Averil told me yesterday that the house opposite mine in Hegarty St Glebe was auctioned this weekend with a reserve of $920,000. She saw it in the paper. What am I supposed to do? Burst into tears?

Love him or loathe him, Alan Jones is a most controversial figure in Oz, and our most popular talk-back radio announcer. He has very strong opinions, including those on climate change and the credibility of our PM Julia Gillard. I'm not sure you can watch this interview with him outside of Oz but give it a shot. It's very interesting.

Time to feed the zoo again. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

October 21, 2011. Lots of ones and twos... 10212011. NC Art commented on Waltzing Matilda: Poor swag man couldn't out run the police and lost the jumbuck that he seized with such glee. Such is life on the road. The guitar rendition of Waltzing Matilda is a good one. Thanks for the link.

Yep, Tommy Emmanuel is one heck of a guitarist... self taught, can't read a note of music. Here he is live in Budapest introducing his "band" before launching into Blue Moon. One of the commenters suggests Tommy has a brain implanted in his thumb. :o)

On the subject of Korea's Got Talent, Art has this to say: That Korean lad's voice was as good--even untrained--as some I've heard singing at the Metropolitan Opera. I hope he has a chance to make up for a shitty existence sleeping in toilets for so many years. Yes, as one of the judges said, "I just want to see him happy."

And on Royalty? Too bad Her Highness must make do with accommodations in government house. How republican! A visit to Toronto once coincided with the Queen Mum's arrival years ago. All Toronto was agog to see her colors flying over a downtown hotel where the top floor was kept reserved for her and her entourage. Canadians are not more royalist than Aussies, I think, but the reverence for this amazing woman was palpable throughout the province of Ontario. Touching, really. Our host, the hard headed boss of Toronto Hydro & Gas which controlled billions of public dollars, was no exception; his voice changed tenor when he spoke of the Queen Mum.

Yes, everybody loved the Queen Mum, and I heard she owed her longevity to keeping a bottle of gin hidden in the cupboard under the kitchen sink hehe. I believe she enjoyed a regular tipple. Art probably remembers her during the war when she regularly visited bomb sites during to Blitz to empathise with ordinary Londoners and offer her condolences. She was indeed a lady of the people.

Beeb time: Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire in an assault on his birthplace of Sirte, officials say. Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he had been shot in the head in an exchange between Gaddafi loyalists and National Transitional Council fighters. He confirmed that Col Gaddafi had been taken alive, but had died before reaching hospital. Nato's governing body, meeting in the coming hours, is expected to declare an end to its Libyan bombing campaign. Video footage suggests Col Gaddafi was dragged through the streets. It is unclear from the footage, broadcast by al-Jazeera TV, whether he was alive or dead at the time. Apparently he was begging his captors for mercy. How pathetic. The Basque separatist group Eta announces to the BBC a "definitive cessation of its armed activities", a move hailed by the PM as "a victory for democracy". It's a victory for common sense. Potatoes have gone from nation-building superfoods to national pariahs. Why? An interesting article about the much (and unfairly) maligned spud. Cash-strapped car maker Saab has secured a $70m (£44.6m) investment from a US private equity group. North Street Capital is paying $10m for 2.38 million new shares in Saab's parent company, Swedish Automobile. It is providing a further $60m as a loan. This is the second deal between the two firms in less than a month. The Connecticut-based investor agreed to buy the carmaker's Spyker luxury sports car business for 32m euros ($43.9m, £28m) on 29 September. Bit different to the billions it took to keep Ford, GM and Chrysler afloat. A digital camera that allows photographers to focus their pictures after taking them has gone on sale. Rather than recording a single version of an image, the Lytro captures data about the intensity and direction of all the light entering its lenses. That information can be reorganised later with the option to change which parts are blurred and which are sharp. The "light field" technology was developed by company founder Ren Ng while he was at Stanford University. Hehe. How about that? Bloody amazing

Well, the Colonel certainly hadn't planned on such a wretched ending to his 42 year reign - being found hiding in a drain. Neither did Saddam Hussein nor Hitler nor so many other pathetic despots. And there was Gaddafi with a bullet wound to the head begging for mercy. Days ago he was desperately trying to rally his supporters to fill Libya's streets with rivers of blood. But before we get too excited about Gaddafi's demise, let's hope one lunatic is not replaced by another. 

I think it's time for a bit of Aussie stand-up in a pub.

As to the Aussie accent, here's Adam Hills to explain a few things. I have to say I don't end sentences with an upward inflection. Many old school newsreaders used to emphasise the noun instead of the adjective. A brown dog would become a brown DOG instead of a BROWN dog. And they would always emphasise the last word in a sentence. "Gaddafi was found hiding in a stormwater DRAIN." It was a mechanical type of newsreading where the eyes absorbed the words and the mouth spat them out without going via the brain. I was guilty somewhat of that technique when I read commercials.

Shopping's done. Averil has her bits and pieces... and we had our little chat. She mentioned Betty asking to be driven around the grounds of Government House in a golf buggy to check out the kangaroos. Hehe. Makes a change from corgis. Just checked Canberra weather and it's very nice... mostly sunny with tops in the mid to high 20s C (pretty much the same as here in Taree). So Betty's probably having the time of her life. Averil also commented on Betty alighting from the Royal aircraft that brought her to Oz. It didn't land at a commercial airport so Her Madge had to walk down a flight of stairs that were wheeled up to the plane. But even at 85, Her Madge managed the steep descent with no problem at all, unassisted no less. Not bad for an old girl, and a lot more dignified than the emergency escape shute.

And now, ladies and genitals, it's time for the same old, same old routine... cooking for the zoo. Bleh. Gary

October 20, 2011. And here we are again. TX Greg sent a link to a $3m motorhome. Hello? How much? That's a tad out of my range, Greg. He says it's got at least a 4' long wiper blade. After you've checked it out, imagine that parked beside a creek way out in the sticks. How absurd would that look? Nah... I think I'll stick to Das Busse.

By the way, the savings plan for DB's restoration ain't going too well. Things keep cropping up... the computer crash, the purchase of a stand-by Acer netbook, the mouth lesion, the latest power bill and various other things. You know the story... one step forward, two steps back. I got three numbers in Lotto last night but that ain't enough. Bleh. Oh well... just keep pluggin' along. It's either dream or no dream, and what's the point of no dream?

Yes, speaking of Mark Knopfler (which we are now), here he is with another of my favs Chet Atkins playing an acoustic version of Lennon's Imagine.

And here's Tommy Emmanuel, Oz guitarist. When Banjo Patterson wrote the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda back in 1895 (Australia's unofficial anthem), not in a million years would he have expected it to sound like this.

And now it's heart strings time. Check out this homeless kid who steals the show on Korea's Got Talent. And all the while he appears totally bewildered by all the fuss.

Pardon my reminiscing here, but does anyone remember the Spencer Davis Group and young Steve Winwood with Keep On Running? Here's a paste from Youchewb comments: The Spencer Davis Group played at a little club called Burtons in Uxbridge in the 60's, one evening they announced 'we are going to play a new song, never played in the UK before', and then played this.... my Dad was there :) And this one: A teenage, whiter than white Brit, with a voice like a southern blues belter......what a gift! Yes, most extraordinary. I used to play this song at Long John's Disco when I was the DJ there in 1967. Here's the TV clip from 1966.

Jeez, I could go on and on and on but I better not. Nuffs nuff.

Beeb time: The Greek parliament gives initial backing to the latest austerity bill as police and protesters clash in Athens. Seems to me they don't have a lotta choice. The Welfare State can't afford the welfare any more. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Kabul for a visit aimed at encouraging the Afghans to continue efforts for reconciliation with the Taliban. Yes, apart from anything else, it's cheaper than war. Police have shot and killed dozens of exotic animals that escaped from a private zoo in Zanesville, Ohio. Sheriff Matt Lutz said he personally gave the order to shoot the escaped animals, including grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, tigers and lions. The animals' owner, Terry Thompson, was found dead at the zoo, and police believe he killed himself. Among those killed were 17 lions and 18 Bengal tigers. US nature TV host Jack Hanna said the killing of the tigers was especially tragic as there were only about 1,400 remaining in the world. Six animals - three leopards, one grizzly bear and two monkeys - were captured and have been sent to the nearby Columbus Zoo. One wolf was also found dead, leaving just a monkey unaccounted for. How bizarre. Apparently Ohio's regulations about keeping exotic animals are pretty lax. One of the most powerful satellites ever built has headed into orbit on a Russian Proton rocket. The Viasat-1 spacecraft will deliver broadband services to customers in the US and Canada. With a total data throughput of some 140 Gbps, the satellite has more capacity than all other communication satellites over North America combined. The internet is here to stay, folks. The film River Phoenix was working on when he died is to be finished and released, 18 years after his death, the director has announced. George Sluizer told The Hollywood Reporter he hopes to release Dark Blood next year. The filmmaker said he plans to ask Phoenix's brother Joaquin to record the film's voiceover because "the voices of both brothers are very much alike". Phoenix died of a drugs overdose in 1993, aged 23. The story concerns a widower living on a nuclear testing site in the desert, who comes to the rescue of a couple of honeymooners when their car breaks down. I was a fan of River Pheonix but I suspect the drugs started to affect his brain.

Here's a 1991 interview with River.

Betty is visiting Oz. The royal visit coincides with CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in Perth soon. Meanwhile, she's being chauffeured around in a Range Rover, which is a change from the Royal Rolls she used to whizz around in in the old days. Oz has been toying with the idea of becoming a republic for a few years now (it's currently a Constitutional Monarchy) but many Aussies still regard Betty with great affection. Whether that affection will be transferred to people like William and Kate after Betty abdicates or dies, remains to be seen. I personally have no problem with Oz being a Constitutional Monarchy and am quite happy for it to remain so. For all intents and purposes we're an independent nation. All ties to Mother England are largely ceremonial. It's the old apron strings thing ya know... mom's cooking and all that. Anyway, there's a serious lack of palaces in Oz and she's had to make do with Government House in Canberra, which are pretty flash digs by Oz standards. If they'd asked, I could have loaned them Das Busse for a week or so. Meanwhile, Betty will get a taste of Australian wildlife... there are lots of kangaroos hopping about the grounds of Government House.

Just watching the TV news about the Queen in Oz. Our PM Julia Gillard didn't courtsey when she shook hands with Her Majesty... she's a republican. But a couple of girls in the crowd held up a big sign, "We Love Lizzie!" Meanwhile, it's time to feed the zoo. Crumbed prawns and chips with a squeeze of lemon. Boom boom. Gary

October 19, 2011. Do you think I can get that I'll Be Gone song by Spectrum with the harmonica out of my head? No way, Jose. It just keeps going around and around. But I do love that harmonica. Spectrum was known as a "progressive" rock band... whatever that means. NC Art reckons old songs are making a comeback: Old tunes seem to be in vogue. Harry Belafonte is flogging a new album on TV and was a guest on Jon Stewart's Today show last night. Stewart started humming one of his old songs, and the civil right's activist joined in a duet. I didn't know he was still alive. Likewise, Tony Bennett is still in the game and appeared in an earlier show. To my ear he was always a quarter off-key, but sang a few lines and he's near 90 I think.

Good old Harry. Isn't he the Hole In The Bucket Dear Liza person? Art reckons I should get back into radio. Hehe. Nah. It's a wanker's game. The problem with being a radio announcer is that you're expected to be interested in EVERYTHING. One time a bloke asked me what the current cricket score was and I didn't have a clue! Sport schmort.

And on the subject of Oregon Richie's comment: Oregon Richie spoke of the Jerry jets' fuel limitations. True, and a fine discovery for Brit and American fighter planes. The jets had to head for a landing field which presented helpless and slow moving targets. Fine with me, because with the jets firing the damned things would cut up a bomber in flight and be gone before anyone could get one in his gunsight.

I would have been hopeless in the military. I can't even gut a fish let alone drop bombs or fire a gun at someone. One time, when I was 16, a group of drunken teens walked into a milk bar where my mate and I were playing a pin-ball machine. One of the drunks tilted the machine while my mate was playing, so I pushed the guy and said, "Whaddaya thinkya doin'?" "Wanna make something of it?" "Yeah... you and me...outside... now!" Well, I almost had the kid bluffed but his mates talked him into accepting my challenge. Damn! So we stepped outside into the street and the kid belted the crap outta me. But there was a consolation. My mate took me back to his place and gave me lots of tender loving care... and a couple of bandaids. Made me feel pretty special. Hehe. But when I arrived home I got no such sympathy from my mother. There I was all black and blue and bandaged and all she could say was, "Serves you damn right!"

I just posted one of the pics of the Motor Rail on Red Bubble thinking that maybe one of the arty-farty types might think it was okay. Hehe. Guess what?

Beeb time: Jubilant crowds in Israel and the Palestinian territories celebrate Gilad Shalit's historic swap for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Welcome home. A 48-hour general strike is expected to bring Greece to a standstill as parliament votes on another round of tough austerity measures. I don't understand how you're supposed to fix being broke by spending more. What do the strikers hope to gain? A woman who allegedly chained four mentally disabled adults in a Philadelphia basement had identification documents for as many as 50 people, it has emerged. Police allege Linda Ann Weston, 51, stole disability benefits, and say the documents suggest her fraud extended far beyond the four known victims. Weston previously served a prison sentence for starving a man to death. Jeez, what a nasty piece of work she is. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made an unannounced visit to Libya aimed at showing support for the Libyan people and building ties. Mrs Clinton was in the capital Tripoli for only a few hours - the first US cabinet-level official to visit since Col Muammar Gaddafi was ousted. She said she hoped that Col Gaddafi would be captured or killed. I wish she'd do something about that hair. Republican presidential hopefuls have clashed sharply in their latest televised debate in the economically depressed state of Nevada. Herman Cain - who has jumped in the polls despite having never won an election - came under heavy fire in the opening minutes for his 9-9-9 tax plan. The fiercest exchange was between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry on immigration. All are vying for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012. The games people play. Ho hum. The US Senate has blocked a proposal by the Obama administration to limit potatoes in school lunches. The lawmakers also backed an amendment which bars putting any limits on serving other vegetables in US schools. The administration's proposal had envisaged that pupils would have no more than two servings a week of potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Government health officials say pupils should have more diverse diets, because they get enough potatoes already. I honestly don't remember a single potato being available at our school tuck shop. These days I dunno what I'd do without my spuds. A handwritten letter from Sir Paul McCartney inviting a mystery drummer to audition for the Beatles is to go under the hammer in London next month. The 1960 letter offers the audition on condition the drummer be available for a two-month trip to Hamburg, Germany. Pete Best was the group's drummer at the time, who was replaced by Ringo Starr two years later. Christie's said the letter was expected to fetch up to £9,000 ($14,000) at the auction on 15 November. Dated 12 August 1960, the letter was discovered inside a book by an anonymous collector at a car boot sale in Bootle, Liverpool. Sir Paul wrote it in response to a notice in the Liverpool Echo from the drummer advertising their availability. "We would like to offer you an audition for the position of drummer in the group," the musician wrote. "You will, however, need to be free soon for a trip to Hamburg (expenses paid £18 per week (approx) for 2 months). If interested ring Jacaranda club and ask for a member of The Beatles. Yours sincerely, Paul McCartney - The Beatles". Three days later, on 15 August, The Beatles travelled as a five-piece along with Stuart Sutcliffe to Germany for their gigs. Jeez, fancy that... 18 quid a week. Hehe. I was almost making that myself as a clerk in the Public Service! 

Have you ever seen those ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics? They're actually pretty easy to figure out if you know how. And Ronnie Barker is an expert Egyptologist.

So how do I get that song I'll Be Gone outta my head? Easy. Watch another one. I got a zillion favs but how about this one... Mark Knopfler with Dire Straits and Sultans of Swing. Art will probably be expecting lots of trombones and saxaphones. Hehe. Sorry Art.

Back in my old band days, our line-up included a Hammond organ with a big Leslie rotating speaker. Remember those? It weighed a ton and was a mongrel to transport but what a sound! In this clip of Santana's Evil Woman you can see the Leslie rotating in the top left hand corner. Oh, there's so much good music around it's hard to choose. Mind you, there's also a lotta crap. But you know what they say... one man's crap is another man's jelly bean. I just made that up ya know.

I had my little walk today. Sheesh. Maybe I should get another dog. Trouble is they walk too damn fast. Maybe I could get an old one. With arthritis. Yeah, that'd be cool. We could just stand at the front gate watching the traffic go by for half an hour and then come back inside. Sounds cool to me.

Well, it's time to think about the kitchen agenda again. FOOD. You know those things in hospitals? The tall things they hang plastic bags of stuff off and stick tubes into your veins? I need one of those. I could be continuously intravenously fed with whatever while I'm doing more important things. Anyway, since I don't have one of those, I'll have to cook dinner. BTW, that chickeny thing with garlic and butter in filo pastry last night was very noice. I think there was a bit of spinach in there as well... something green anyway. Don't tell me it wasn't spinach cos I don't wanna know. Tonoit we're having genuine Thai chicken rissoles made by a 17 y/o Aussie girl who works at Eddy's Chicken. But they've got Thai stuff in 'em... so they reckon. The chicken's not Thai though... just your basic owyagoinmatenoworries chook. I think I better go now before I embarrass myself. Gary

October 18, 2011. I remembered something about "air-ya-goin'?". A mate of mine in Orlando said the key to mimicking the Queen's English when she says "Oh, hello!" is to say "Air-hair-lair" without pronouncing the 'r'. Hehe.

I realized today that the link I placed on the post of the Motor Rail pics yesterday went straight to the photo album instead of via the Journal entry. If you'd like to read what I wrote in the Journal, click here

As expected, Oregon Richie enjoyed the historic footage of the 1945 Freeman Field Airshow: Film footage of the 45 airshow was pretty damned cool, too.  Great stuff, with a lot of variety including the captured German machines.  Interesting that they showed a V-2 rocket and a buzz-bomb, too... and the two-engine jet fighter.  There is a fantastic Spitfire and Bf 109 over at the air museum in McMinnville and very different engineering design methods and engines, and the Spit just rocks in contrast to the German fighter, which also was restrained in battle by poor operating range... not enough fuel to keep it up there long enough.

Now about 'H'. I use 'an' before 'historic' even though the 'h' is pronounced. But I use 'a' before 'hotel' or 'house/home'. H is a funny letter. It's pronounced in some words but not in others... such as 'hour' and 'honest'. Hehe. It's all a bit inconsistent really. But that's English for ya. For example, you get a silent 'b' in plumber but not in slumber or number. And why is it that hyperbole doesn't rhyme with superbowl? Or Penelope with envelope? I give up.

Nonetheless, English is the closest thing we have to an international language. I believe there are more words in the English language than any other due to its having plagiarized words from several other languages, including French, German, Latin and Greek. Makes sense to me. What you don't have, steal. But what about French where everything is either male or female? Le homme, la femme. What if something is gay?

Beeb time: Israel's Supreme Court has backed a prisoner swap with Hamas, rejecting petitions against freeing more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Families of victims of attacks by militants wanted a 48-hour delay on the swap, which is due to begin on Tuesday. I guess Israel figures another thousand ants in an ant nest ain't gonna make much difference. Click here for an in-depth article about the reasons behind Israel's 1000 to 1 asymmetry. L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, 88, is to be placed under the guardianship of members of her family. A French judge made the ruling based on concerns about Mrs Bettencourt's declining mental health. The family are reportedly concerned about her health and management of her fortune, estimated at 16bn euros (£13bn: $20bn) by Forbes magazine. And to think all that money was amassed by appealing to the vanity of women. I'm obviously in the wrong business. Three suspects have been charged with chaining four mentally disabled adults in a basement in Philadelphia and collecting their disability benefits. Police found the victims after investigating reports of squatters. The room was too short to stand up in, one victim was chained to a boiler, and the only food in the room was a container of orange juice, police said. One suspect, Linda Ann Weston, previously served eight years in prison for starving a man to death 1981. Police officially charged Weston, 51, Gregory Thomas, 47, and Eddie Wright, 50 with multiple charges, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and aggravated assault. Authorities are looking into additional federal charges, a spokesman told the The Philadelphia Inquirer. "We're going to find every crime possible in the crime code to put on these individuals," said Lt Raymond Evers. You have to wonder who is the more mentally disabled, the victims or the criminals. What a shocker.

I just noticed this clip on Youchewb featuring Oz PM Julia Gillard answering questions about Julian Assange which may be of interest to you.

I heard a song the other day somewhere... can't remember where... but it's been rolling around in my head ever since. I remembered it from years ago and kinda knew some of the lyrics but not the title of the song, so I made an effort on Google and Youchewb to search for it and FINALLY found it. Turns out it's a song from '71 by Aussie group Spectrum - their first attempt at getting a recording contract and it went to No.1. It's called I'll be Gone, and I love the harmonica.

Someday I'll have money
money isn't easy t' come by 
By the time it's come by 
I'll be gone 
I'll sing my song and I'll be gone... 

Bloody Averil. I phone her to say I'm doing a bit of shopping and to ask if she wants anything. "No, I'm pretty right for everything," and a minute later she changes her mind. So I arrive at her place with two frozen pizzas and she says, "They're not small ones!" So I tell her they're small ones . "No they're not. They're big ones." So I tell her the big ones are bigger. "These are smaller ones." "Yes, but they're not small small." "Darling, just put it in the oven and it'll be fine." Sheesh. Why me?

And just now a barefoot kid knocked on my front door selling sunscreen. "Oh, there's a small person at my door," I said as I opened it, and got the biggest toothy grin you ever saw. But I didn't buy any sunscreen. No shortage of excitement here, folks.

Anyway, time for domestics. Filet steaks and onions for THEM and I bought myself a chicken thingy with butter and garlic wrapped in filo pastry for ME. That'll do the trick. Oh, and here's the latest on little Keiran's shiny red shoes. I spoke to his mom Stephanie at the mall and she said they were white until he decided to paint them with a bright red texta color pen. So there ya go... Keiran is an innovator. Gary

October 17, 2011. A bunch of cyclists spot a small Renault trying to pull a large caravan up a hill with disastrous results.

Meanwhile, I posted the pics I took yesterday of the Rail Motor arriving in Taree (together with a few shots of the XPT and the station. Check out the Coke bottle painted on the dispensing machine... is that phallic or what?)

I figured it was only a matter of time before Ohio Jace wrote after Casey Stoner clinched the Motogp championship... made all the more relevant for the young bloke because it was his 26th birthday. I find it curious to say the least that such a baby-faced young bloke can be such a determined rider. Racing has its hazards of course, and Jace tells me that Dan Wheldon (33 years old) was killed in a 15 car crash on lap 12 of the final IZOD indycar race in Las Vegas. The race was red flagged to clear the track and repair the wall, track, and fence. Two hours later officials announced the race would not be restarted due to the death of Wheldon. The remaining 19 cars made a five lap tribute to end the season.

I watched part 1 of a great documentary last night about the history of the automobile in Oz. Quite a number of attempts were made to successfully build an Aussie car over the years but it wasn't until General Motors in the US sent a rep to Oz to close the Holden plant that something amazing happened. The rep was so impressed with Holden's operation in Oz he decided to keep it going. Holden was an assembler of imported GM car parts back then but also an innovator. I didn't know this but Holden took the '37 Oldsmobile and redesigned it to become the world's first fully-enclosed coupe. It was called the "Sloper" and my older bro had one. 

But it wasn't until after the war that the GM rep convinced head office in the States to build a car specifically for Australian conditions. A bunch of Aussie and American designers and engineers working in collarboration in Oz took a '35 Chevrolet design and re-worked it with higher ground clearance (for outback roads), tougher suspension and various other modifications, plus a few more curves and aerodynamic improvements, and produced the first Holden in 1948. It sold like hot cakes. In fact, for many years 50% of cars on Australian roads were Holdens. The demand was so great there was a waiting list, and quite often a used Holden was more expensive than a new one!

It wasn't the first Australian built car though, not by a long shot. An earlier attempt was called the 'Australian Six' but only 500 cars were built.

But back to Jace and his love of racing: On a good note last weekend's V8 supercars  (Bathurst) was telecast live in the U.S. for the first time ever; all 1,000 kms and 6 hours of it. It's supposed to be the most dangerous race in the world. This year it was fairly tame with only one serious crash with the car ending up in flames. NO roos this year either. Earlier in the season another car was rear ended at the start and exploded. Both cars were full of petrol at the time.

The main reason I mentioned the documentary about the history of automobles in Oz was because it also contained footage of Australia's obsession with racing and speed. One clip from the '30s showed a race car losing control on a dirt track and ploughing into a group of spectators standing at the side of the road. Bodies went flying everywhere. The driver sat motionless in the cockpit for a while, undoubtedly unable to comprehend what had happened... and probably in shock. That was the beginning of the term 'accident' in motoring to describe an event that was nobody's fault.

Jace says all is well with the Ohio gang, including the youngest: Ryan is four months old now and starting to respond to sounds by moving his head in that direction. He will raise his head and look around when lying on his tummy and is fascinated with his tiny toes, tries to pull them off his feet. Meanwhile, everyone is getting older including "old man Sean" who was 14 when Jace first started writing me. Sean is a qualified teacher but is working his father's old job until a suitable teaching vacancy becomes available. Times are tough.

Beeb time: Forces loyal to Libya's interim authorities say they have entered Bani Walid, one of the last towns still loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi. It's been a lot tougher than I think most people expected, but at least they're making progress. Salvage teams in New Zealand resume efforts to pump the remaining fuel from the cracked cargo ship the Rena, stranded off the coast. Bad weather has been delaying operations. A 100-year-old Briton has become the world's oldest marathon runner after finishing a race in Canada. Fauja Singh, from Ilford, east London, ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds. The record-holder "hit the wall" at 22 miles but soldiered on for another two hours and finished in 3,850th place, ahead of five other competitors. Mr Singh, who took up running 11 years ago after his wife and son died, trains every day by running 10 miles. Jeez, I don't think I could run 10 yards. Singh reckons tea, ginger curry and being stress-free does the trick. An anti-capitalist protest in London's financial district is continuing for a second day, with protesters gathered outside St Paul's Cathedral. And they were all wearing sandals and waving bunches of flowers. 

I'm not sure what socialism is but I suspect it's a society where everyone has a rickshaw but nobody drives a Bentley.

How about an old Beatles song... yeah? Good Day Sunshine?

Speaking of memories, NC Art sent me a link to footage of the Freeman Field Airshow back in 1945, 4 months after the German surrender and 1 month after the Japanese surrender. Art says he was tempted to jitterbug to the music but remembered his busted vertebrae. Hehe. Oregon Richie is into all this kinda thing and will enjoy it I'm sure. BTW, I remember all that music as well and I'm only a chicken. My eldest bro who's 81 says his knees are gone due to all the jitterbugging he did in his younger days.

Well, time to get stuck into rustling up some grub for the troops. Gary

October 16, 2011. NC Art wrote: At 360,000km [223,693.7mi] I'm surprised the thing (Bluey) fires at all, back or forward. Anyway, the catalytic converter is less a suspect than the engine timing. Don't know about Nissan, but a Toyota I once owned had a problem with timing chain and cost outrageously to adjust. Service manager claimed the reason was the timing chain was so hard to get to and required taking a bunch of stuff off the car. That was the dealer's story; later my independent repair guy said that dealer was a pickpocket.

Well, I had the timing chain replaced shortly after I bought Bluey. The engine made a noise like a ship's chain pulling an anchor off the sea bed. The mechanic said it was a big job..."A big big biiiiiiiiiig job". And he charged accordingly. But that's the risk you take when you buy a car for $350. I also had the exhaust replaced. However, Oregon Richie agrees about the catalytic converter: Not sure what may be going on with el Bluey but it could also be something with the air pump, too.... which is supposed to squirt in some air to help burn those remaining petrol fumes.  I had a big problem with the MG Midget with that and we just took the drive belt off the air pump.. and I had removed the cat converter.  So some unburned gasses are popping along in there somewhere.

Yes, the sound of the "backfiring" is not very loud... just a few pops if I rev it out in second. As to mileage, one of my mobile techie's vans (Ford Transit) has just clicked over 500,000 kms. Richie reckons most modern engines are good for 3 or 4 hundred thousand miles if they're serviced properly. Bluey doesn't use any oil or blow any smoke. With vehicles of her vintage (20+ years) it's the hoses, various rubber/plastic components and gaskets that become brittle and need replacing. Next are bolt-ons like radiators, starter motors, pumps and alternators.

Meanwhile, Das Busse started first go again. I have to move it away from the clothes hoist before I can do the laundry. The damn thing won't fit in the garage with the tiltadoor, and Bluey's in the other one with the rolladoor. As to Ronnie Corbett being a bit long in the tooth, Art has this to say: And why the surprise that Ronnie Corbett is still sapient? I was 15 in 1940 and still sharp as a, ah, er...or something.

Beeb time: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has promised to punish rioters after a peaceful mass rally in Rome descended into street battles. Riot police fought militant protesters who had joined the crowds taking part in a global protest against banks and politicians in the city centre. At least 70 people were injured, three of them seriously, property was damaged and cars and bins set on fire. Most of the other protests in 82 countries passed off peacefully. Inspired by the Occupy Wall St movement and Spain's "Indignants", demonstrators turned out from Asia to Europe and back to New York for an event organisers said on their website was aimed at initiating "global change". And that's what happens when you push the common man a little too far. 10 things we didn't know last week. One of them is about how really good sex can wipe your memory. Right, well that might explain why I can't remember a damn thing

Not a lot happening on the Beeb at the mo. However I did have to rearrange the load in the washing machine to get it to spin properly.

I hope to get a few shots of the motor rail that's in town this weekend when she returns to Taree from today's "food and wine" trip to Coffs Harbor. She's expected in Taree at about 4:30. Meanwhile, here's a short clip of a motor rail in Victoria.

And here's Ronnie Corbett again, this time in the kitchen in a cook off with celebrated F Word chef Gordon Ramsay. Ronnie's wife makes an appearance too.

And now, the Two Ronnies in The Barber Shop. A bit long but brilliantly done.

Yes, it's the "Red Rabbit", so the station master called it. But it's running late. I walked into his office and said, "I could be sitting here like a dill waiting for the train that never came!" So he phoned a bloke up the line a bit and asked him when the motor train passed through there. Then he calculated when it would arrive in Taree, taking into consideration other traffic to which it needs to give way. It's only a single line up and down the coast. The Yanks offered to build us a second parallel line during WWII but the government at the time said the cost of maintenance would be too high. Silly buggers. The diesel motor rails are known as "tin hares", hence "Red Rabbit". And if you think "air-ya-goin?" is history in Oz, think again. That's exactly what the station bloke said when his mate up the line answered the phone. Hehe. So I popped back home to let the zoo know that dinner will be a little late tonight. The train is due at about 5:35 so I should be back home about 6. The train is the newly refurbished red one, which I was hoping it was... it's a tricky looking thing. By the way, I got there a bit early and the XPT arrived at 4, so I got a pic or two of that, including one of the driver hosing the windscreen...  from the outside. We're not that dumb down here ya know.

It'll be too late to put an album together today, so I'll do it tomorrow. Gary

October 15, 2011. I watched a Brit panel show called Would I Lie To You. One of the guests was Ronnie Corbett so naturally there was no shortage of "short" jokes. Ronnie was talking about being on the golf course early one morning when another panelist interrupted with "So you wouldn't need a tee then?" Then Ronnie continued with his tale and said he was wearing his big flat golfing hat with a wide brim when the greenkeeper came up and said, "These bloody mushrooms are popping up everywhere." Hehe. Ronnie must be getting on a bit now... he was about 15 in 1941/2. Still sharp as a tack though.

Satdee again, and cloudy and wet. Bleh. But it looks like becoming more summery about mid week. I reckon we've had enough rain for a while, thank you very much (although those living inland could do with a helluva lot more). Meanwhile, Bluey is due for a service at 363,000kms. The odometer reads 353,400 hehe... 400kms since the last service in April. But I'll have it serviced anyway. I'm pretty sure there's something wrong with the catalytic converter. The exhaust backfires a little bit. I mentioned that to Nissan last time but they said they couldn't find anything wrong. Otherwise, the old girl is running pretty well.

Beeb time: A gun battle in the Libyan capital Tripoli between forces loyal to the transitional government and gunmen they say support fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has now ended. It was the first serious confrontation in Tripoli since the city fell to the forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) in August. The fighting started after a demonstration by Gaddafi loyalists. I suppose after 42 years of Gaddafi rule there will remain a few hangers on, but you have to wonder why they bother. US President Barack Obama has said he is sending about 100 US soldiers to Uganda to help regional forces battle the notorious Lord's Resistance Army. Although combat-equipped, the troops would be providing information and advice "to partner nation forces", Mr Obama wrote in a letter to US Congress. A small group is already in Uganda, and the troops could later be deployed in other central African nations. The LRA is blamed for mass murder, rape and kidnapping in the region. But apart from that, they're pretty good blokes. A Catholic bishop in the US has been charged with covering up suspected child abuse in his diocese, in the first case of its kind in the country. Bishop Robert Finn, of Kansas City in Missouri, is accused of failing to alert police to a priest who allegedly kept graphic computer images of minors. Church officials are alleged to have conspired to destroy the evidence. Bishop Finn has apologised for his handling of the case but denied any wrongdoing. Hello? Sounds a bit suss to me. Iran has denied that government officials had direct contact with the US over allegations it plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador on US soil. A US state department spokeswoman insisted the meeting had taken place. The US alleges that two men with ties to Iran's elite security forces were part of the plot. Iran has labelled the claims it was involved in the plot a fabrication, but US President Barack Obama says "facts are there for all to see". Facts? Since when has Iran been concerned with facts? Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty in the case of a man who allegedly went on a shooting rampage in a hair salon in Seal Beach, California. Scott Dekraai, 42, has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He was arrested a short distance from the salon - where his ex-wife worked - moments after Wednesday's attack. Mr Dekraai carried three guns and wore a bulletproof vest when he entered the salon, shooting several victims in the head and chest at close range. He allegedly then walked outside and shot another victim in the parking lot. By all means shake your head but don't expect to make sense of it. US retail sales rose by 1.1% in September, with vehicle sales showing the biggest gain, but grocery store sales fall. Richie will be pleased about that.

Bit of drama yesterday. A middle age bloke who lives in one of the flats on the far side of Averil's house is obviously separated from his missus, and has his two young sons stay over on weekends. I heard the youngest throwing a tantrum yesterday afternoon so I checked through the kitchen window. He was absolutely livid and mad as hell at his older bro. He tried unsuccessfully to climb the tree out front of Averil's house a couple of times and each time he failed, he ripped off a strip of bark and threw it at his older bro. He also chased his older bro a few times. I had no idea what was causing all the fuss until a bit later when dad arrived home. After a few minutes, dad was standing on a small step ladder under the tree, using a fishing rod to poke at something in the branches. I thought it might be a stranded bird or something. Then the older bro had a go at whatever it was they were trying to dislodge. Finally, dad took over again and down came a ball on the end of a long string... some kinda toy. I gather the older boy had swung it around earlier and got it tangled in the branches. He probably thought it was funny, and teased his sibling, which would explain why the younger boy threw a tantrum and tried to climb the tree. Hehe. Sheesh... all that nonsense over a ball on the end of a string. Yes, dear Breth, no shortage of riveting dramas in Taree.

The forecast for tomorrow is sunny with a top of 24C. Sounds pretty good. So what should I do? The laundry? Ummm. I'll think about it. There's a 600 class historic motor rail leaving Taree at 6am, due back at 4:30pm. I suppose I could take a few pics of that.

Anyway, it's time now to think about more mundane things like din dins. Lamb chops for THEM and pizza pigout time for me... a wood-fired, four-cheese job. I think I'll chop up a bit of tomato and a few olives to tart it up a bit. Gary

October 14, 2011. Yep, the burgers last night were a big hit. Very nice indeed. Even Lindsay said, "We should have those more often." I don't think the cow was all that thrilled about it but don't blame me.

NC Art has tried to send me De Belles Photos, but the email attachments failed to arrive ... twice. So, I did a Google and found this. Scroll through the pics... they're amazing! There are a few other De Belles sites with other pics, so do a Google if you wanna check 'em out.

However, Oregon Richie's two pics managed to arrive okay:

Flying over Africa I presume... and this one...

Beeb time: A French inquiry into attempted rape claims against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been dropped. The prosecutor's office said the evidence suggested sexual assault - a less serious offence than attempted rape, with a shorter statute of limitations. Writer Tristane Banon had accused Mr Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape in 2003. Her accusation emerged while Mr Strauss-Kahn was accused of rape in New York; that case was later dropped. Prosecutors said in a statement that "it is clear that, for lack of sufficient proof, a prosecution may not be initiated over the count of attempted rape, but facts that could be described as sexual assault have meanwhile been recognised". Under French law, the statute of limitations for attempted rape is 10 years, but three years for sexual assault. As they say in politics, if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick. Standard & Poor's has cut Spain's long-term credit rating by one notch, from AA to AA-, because of weak growth and high levels of private-sector debt. The ratings agency added that the country's high unemployment would remain a drag on the economy. Last week the Fitch agency cut Spain's rating, a process that can raise a country's borrowing costs. I still haven't figured out who they're borrowing from. Isn't everyone broke? A former hedge-fund manager has been sentenced to 11 years in jail in New York for one of the biggest insider trading cases in American history. Raj Rajaratnam, 54, was also fined $10m (£6.4m). The Galleon Group founder made well over $50m from illegal trades, said the judge at the Manhattan federal court. Sri Lankan-born Rajaratnam was convicted of 14 counts of securities fraud and conspiracy charges in May after a two-month trial. Hmmm. I've met a few people like him. A plane crash in northern Papua New Guinea has killed 28 people on board, officials have said. Four people, including the two pilots, survived the crash, witnesses and media reports said. Investigators said the Airlines PNG Dash-8 was flying from Lae to Madang when it went down in dense forest about 20km south of Madang. Most of the passengers on board the twin-propeller plane were believed to be families travelling to attend a graduation ceremony for Madang university students. The pilots, from Australia and New Zealand, are believed to be among the four survivors. What a terrible way to celebrate a graduation ceremony. I feel so sorry for those students. Herman Cain has stormed to the front of the pack of Republican presidential candidates. So what is the appeal of the former pizza company boss and will this surge of popularity last? Judging by the attention paid to him by primetime television comedians this week, Herman Cain is the man of the moment. He's a man with no electoral experience and a CV which includes Baptist minister, mathematician, a director of the Federal Reserve Bank and radio talk show host. He's also long been a favourite of the Tea Party and the evangelical community, so he's the ultimate validator of the Republican conservative movement. Oh dear... Read the full article here. Australia is dropping a controversial asylum plan and will now process asylum seekers onshore after the government failed to secure support for key legal changes. PM Julia Gillard needed parliamentary backing for legislation allowing her "Malaysia swap" plan to go ahead. But she could not secure enough votes to get the legislation passed. Australia's asylum policy has been in crisis since a court ruled a plan to swap refugees with Malaysia unlawful. I can't stand that woman. She irritates me big time. I'm sure if an election were held now, she'd be wiped off the planet. Eighteen-year-old country singer Scotty McCreery becomes the first American Idol winner to top the US charts with a debut album since 2003. I'm not a big fan of country but the kid's cool.

Click here for McCreery's audition on American Idol

You know you live in a country town when you nick round to the barber shop on a Friday afternoon and there's a "Back at 3:15" sign in the window. Another bloke in the street said, "He'll be back in 10 minutes. I just phoned him. I've got his number." Must've been his mobile number cos Mark doesn't have a phone in the shop. So I decided to wait. Then the bloke waddled off, only to return a few minutes later. He jumped into his Ford ute and drove up the road. Hmmm. I guessed I was first in line. But no. The Ford returned and parked in the same spot. And guess who was in the passenger seat? Mark. The bloke had gone to pub and brought Mark back to the shop. "You've been to the pub?" I asked as I followed the two into the shop. "What kinda haircut am I gonna get?" The other bloke was almost as bald as a badger and wasn't in the chair for long. When Mark finished with mine, he asked what I thought. "Fabulous!" I said. "I look civilized! Doesn't look like a country haircut at all... looks like a city job." "Yep," he agreed, "A city job for a country price." And then he charged me $16. When I left, there were two more blokes waiting. Mark is never short of customers.

And here we are again, another revolution of the planet so the blokes on the other side can get a bit of sunshine while we get to prove once again that stars actually exist. Chicken and cheese schnitzels tonight with corn on the cob. The cob kinda dried out a bit in the fridge but it'll puff up again in boiling water. No wukkers. It's called reconstitution. Maybe if I sat in the bath long enough it would happen to me. Ya think? Gary

October 13, 2011. My dad used to play banjo (so my mom told me). Never heard or saw him play, but I love the banjo anyway. Here's Billy Connolly plunking out a chewn.

Right, pay day/bills day. All's well for another couple of weeks. I watched an interview with the British couple who won 101m pounds sterling ($160m) in the lottery. Quite ordinary folk, really. Not now, though. They're giving quite a bit of it away to 20 friends. Hehe. Drawing up a list of 20 friends would be difficult because I'm sure they now have about 20,000 they didn't realize they had. I think the main problem with deciding what to do with all that loot is the sheer size of the list of options. All of a sudden there are a thousand possibilities whereas before there were only a few. So how do you prioritize a thousand possibilities? Hehe. Be careful of what you wish for, yeah?

I reckon a nice camper and enough dough to keep me fed and comfortable would do me. Speaking of a nice camper, Terry my Red Bubble mate, who loves traveling around Oz, posted a pic of his recent camp site. He loves the Aussie bush and the outdoor life.

No, I'm not bothered by fancy cars or fancy houses or fancy clothes or any of that stuff. However, I am currently being bothered by a dove sitting on my TV antennae chirping the same damn chewn over and over and over again! Honestly, if he doesn't shuddup soon I'll scream.

NC Art mentioned "pretty old Fords" the other day. This one's a Chevy posted on Red Bubble, and has an interesting little story behind it. 

It's shopping day today (including Averil's) so let's get the Beeb outta the way: A Nigerian accused of trying to bomb a US-bound flight on Christmas Day 2009 has told his trial in Detroit that he is pleading guilty to all charges. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, told a judge he was admitting all eight counts against him, including terrorism and attempted murder. Abdulmutallab was badly burned when a bomb sewn into his underwear failed to detonate fully, prosecutors say. Serves the dickhead right. I hope his 27 virgins are all old and wrinkly by the time he gets his reward. Reports that Col Muammar Gaddafi's son Mutassim has been captured spark celebrations in Libya, although there is no official confirmation. Seems to me that the Colonel and his family have left it too late to appreciate what Karma does to assholes. Six people have been shot dead at a hair salon in the Los Angeles area, authorities say. The shooting took place in the city of Seal Beach, California, in a retail area off the Pacific Coast Highway. Three other people were shot and are in a critical condition, Police Sgt Steve Bowles confirmed to the Associated Press news agency. Police say they have a suspect in custody after arresting a man nearby. Multiple weapons were seized. Multiple weapons, huh? Well whaddaya know. The US city of Harrisburg - capital of the state of Pennsylvania - has filed for bankruptcy, making it the first state capital to do so. Harrisburg faces debts of $300m (£190m) and has struggled to pay for services. The move comes as the state legislature considers a takeover of the city and the implementation of a "rescue plan". The first state capital to do so? Wot dat mean? Changes to the rules on succession have moved closer after (British PM) David Cameron shared his plans with the 15 other countries who have the Queen as their monarch. The PM wants to scrap the ban on spouses of Roman Catholics ascending to the throne and give girls the same right of succession as boys. But he needs the 15 other Commonwealth nations to agree to the changes. No tykes on the throne? Oh dear... I wasn't aware of that. Shoulda been though... Betty is head of the Church of England. A 1939 letter from Albert Einstein warning of the "calamitous peril" to Jews posed by the Nazis has been sold at auction for nearly $14,000 (£9,000). The Nobel-winning physicist's letter to a New York businessman, Hyman Zinn, sold for double its estimate at auction in the US state of California. In the typed letter, Einstein praises Zinn for his work in helping Jews flee persecution in Adolf Hitler's Germany. Einstein himself fled Germany for the US when Hitler came to power in 1933. Good thinking, 99. Imagine the loss of one of the greatest minds of all time to the Nazi extermination of Jews. The US has imposed sanctions on an Iranian airline it says flew members of an elite force linked to an alleged plot to kill the Saudi envoy to the US. The US Treasury says Mahan Air ferried operatives from Iran's Quds Force and Hezbollah across the Middle East. Under the sanctions, the airline's US assets will be frozen and US firms barred from doing business with it. And not before time. Dramatic footage has emerged of a South African mountain biker Evan van der Spuy being knocked off his bike by a charging antelope. The clip, which was filmed by Evan's colleague, Travis Walker has already been viewed more than a million times on YouTube. Check out the vid here. Singer Paul Simon has announced plans to celebrate his 1986 album Graceland by touring the record next year. The 69-year-old intends to reunite with the musicians who played with him 25 years ago, including South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In 1987 the album, which featured the single You Can Call Me Al, was named record of the year at the Grammys. This July, Simon - formerly of folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel - played a gig with trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo in South Africa. Love Simon's stuff.

Check out You Can Call Me Al at a live concert in Zimbabwe. Funny innit... a white Jewish boy showing the natives how to do their thang.

Oops! Got another returned email from AOL (Richie). No, it's cool... it was one I sent a few days ago. Hopefully this morning's got through. I don't need all this dumb shit. TX Greg told me how to check it if it happens again though... and he said it had nothing to do with "disk cleanup".

Oh yes... shoes. I saw little Keiran on his way to school this morning and he was wearing bright red shoes... shiny like patent leather but probably plastic. So I gather that's the latest thing in teen cool. He looks like something out of the Wizard of Oz.

Back from shopping. Shopping, shopping, shopping. It's such a pain in the ass. But I saw another Das Busse in the parking area, same vintage but bigger... about 2' longer with a larger kitchen/storage area and longer pop-top. Oh well... there's only me in mine so it's no biggie.

Lindsay said he feels like a burger tonight so no worries. But rather than buy the boring ready-mades at the supermarket (that taste like cardboard anyway) I bought good quality ground beef and made my own. I didn't have all the things needed for a genuine Elvis Burger so I kinda cheated a bit and used what I had handy. That'll do the trick, and they look pretty good. Nice BIG plump ones. If you wanna make your own Elvis Burger, check out Jamie Oliver's recipe. He's not a Yank... he's British. And he doesn't drive a Cadillac, he rides a Vespa hehe... close enough. But it's a great recipe and Jamie's a great chef.

The ground beef was on spesh for a bit less than 6 bucks. Add an egg, half an onion, some breadcrumbs, a few herbs, a bit of mustard, some cheese and whatever, mix, shape, and there's a tasty, satisfying meal for about 2 bucks each. WITH CHIPS! I made the burgers in advance so I could chill them in the fridge for about an hour before frying. Apparently they firm up better if you do that.

So that's it, ladies and genitals, time to attend to the domestics. Gary

October 12, 2011. Sorry about yesterday. My ISP hosting service got mixed up with my new plan. Instead of doubling my space, they halved it which meant I was waaaaay over the limit. Instead of my former 1GB, I had 500MB. It was supposed to be doubled to 2GB. Every time I tried to update the site yesterday it refused to take any more info. Not only that, it emptied the file I was trying to update (which was why you got a blank page). Hopefully, they'll fix the prob today. Soooome people!

It was a frustrating exercise for a while cos I couldn't figure out what was going on. Then I checked my cPanel info and saw the reason for the problem. It was time to cook dinner, and the last thing I needed was Lindsay to start bitching, so I used my mobile (cell) phone to call my ISP and did the cooking one-handed while I waited on the queue. Have you ever seen a one-handed chef in action? "We're experiencing more calls than normal. Thank you for your patience. Your call is important to us and will be answered as soon as possible." To make matters worse, the techie couldn't solve the problem there and then cos the relevant departments were closed for the day. Coulda been worse... coulda been a Friday.

And now? Two more returned mails... one to Richie and the other to Art. And just to add to the confusion, Art forwarded something about De Belles Photos, and the photos didn't arrive. Woe is me.

As to 'coulda', how often have you heard people use 'of' instead of 'have', as in 'could of' or 'had of' or 'must of'? They mistake the abbreviated versions using 've as short for 'of' instead of 'have'. Bloody drongos. So 'coulda' saves all that confusion. Coulda shoulda woulda buddha.

I need a laugh ('laff' in Merrica). This Gabriel Iglesias bloke is awesome with the voices and sound effects, and is a brilliant story teller.

And if you've never undergone a prostate examination, you might be interested in what happens according to Billy Connolly.

Beeb time: The US says it has broken up a plot by agents linked to Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington using explosives. Two men originally from Iran - one a naturalised US citizen - have been charged with counts of conspiracy, Attorney General Eric Holder said. The plot was "conceived" in Iran by the Quds force, part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, he added. The state department has listed Iran as a "state sponsor" of terror since 1984. Mr Holder said the alleged plot was a "flagrant violation of US and international law" that had been "conceived, sponsored and directed by Iran". Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency called the charges a "propaganda campaign" by the US government against Tehran. The allegations were "a comedy show fabricated by America", Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the semi-official Iranian news agency, Fars. Yeah, right. Pull the other leg. We often get boatloads of Iranians seeking refuge in Oz, but we never get boatloads of Americans. Israel and Hamas reach a deal to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for releasing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, snatched by militants in 2006. Another example of Middle East lunacy. Republicans in the US Senate have blocked President Barack Obama's jobs bill in a procedural vote. Forty-six Republican senators joined with two Democrats to filibuster the $447bn (£287bn) bill. Republicans opposed the measure over its spending to stimulate the economy and its tax rise on millionaires. Reacting to the vote, Mr Obama said: "Tonight's vote is by no means the end of this fight." He challenged lawmakers to "explain to their constituents why they're against common-sense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs". Simple. Republicans don't want Obama to get a second term. What's good for America is not necessarily good for the Republicans. The captain of a cargo ship that has grounded off New Zealand and is leaking oil into the sea has been arrested and charged, officials say. The captain was charged with "operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk". The 775ft (236m) Rena ran aground on a charted reef off the North Island port of Tauranga a week ago. Officials say the fuel oil leaking from the ship has caused the country's worst environmental disaster in decades. MNZ said the Rena's captain, 44-year-old Mauro Balomaga, had been charged under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act. He faces a fine of $7,800 (£5,000) or a maximum prison sentence of 12 months if convicted. They've gotta be joking. A $7,800 fine or a few months in prison for causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades? What a joke! Australia has expressed concern over reports that an Iranian actress has been sentenced to jail and 90 lashes for being in a film critical of Iran. Marzieh Vafamehr starred in the 2009 Australian film My Tehran for Sale, about an actress whose work is banned. Reports of her sentence appeared on an Iranian opposition website although authorities have not confirmed it. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd urged Iran "to protect the rights of all Iranians and foreign citizens". Bloody hell, what century is Iran in?

Well, I just phoned tech support at my ISP again to try and sort out this bouncing email problem and the bloke told me to change this and that, and then to try it again. So we'll see what happens. I figure it's probably got something to do with deleting "unwanted" files from my hard drive (during cleanup) to increase available space. The process probably changes/removes certain configurations.

Then I phoned the accounts department and asked what they were doing to solve the problem with my web site. While I was on the phone, they fixed it. They said they accidentally upgraded the site using the old hosting plan instead of the new one. I checked my cPanel again and I now have 2GB of space, of which I've used 910MB. So there ya go... that should do me for a while. Anyway, 2GB is bugger all these days.

But getting back to what century Iran is in, I heard a Jewish bloke on air the other day talking about the fact that he's a Jew but not religious. He married a Christian, and his kids aren't religious either. He said, "I don't want to obey laws that are 3000 years old." I'm with him. Why should bearded scribes scratching on parchment thousands of years ago, using feathers dipped in ink, have a monopoly on truth? They hardly knew their asses from their elbows. And there you have Pope Benny and the Catholic hierarchy running around in party frocks and funny hats waving incense around. It's beyond a joke. It's a farce! But that's okay. Farces make lots of money and employ lots of people. Hehe. Madam Zara's Fortune Telling Tent will always be guaranteed of doing good business at the county fair. Whip out the crystal ball and a pack of Tarot cards and in rolls the dough.

Richie just wrote so the email is working again. And I wasn't hit by lightning after all the naughty things I said, so things are looking up.

I quite like watching gardening programs on telly, not because I like gardening... no. Too lazy for that. But I'm always intrigued by how nature works, and how natural recycling performs its magic. Fill an old drum with food scraps and lots of other organic material, throw in a bunch of worms, cover with a hessian bag, water regularly and voila... the worm "castings" (poo) and natural decomposition turn the material into sweet-smelling, nutrient-rich soil that makes plants thrive. Isn't that wonderful? Nothing is wasted in nature, and waste itself can be turned into black gold. Keen gardeners love to make their own compost and derive great pleasure from witnessing the results on their own gardens. And now they're teaching young kids in school about gardening and how to grow AND EAT their own food. Once kids learn to appreciate nature and how things work, they no longer turn up their noses at fresh fruit and vegetables. Maybe that's why Asian food is so yummy... Asians love to tend their gardens and grow lots of goodies. And they sure know how to cook!

Speaking of cooking... back from my little walk around the block and now it's time to feed the zoo. Gary

October 11, 2011. Ever heard of Angelo Tsarouchas? I hadn't before this morning. Very funny guy.

The Youchewb vids of WWII British warplanes yesterday brought back memories for NC Art: The newsreels took me back aways. Unfortunately both of them froze about one minute in, but still the RAF stood alone to defy Nazi fighters and bombers--and at horrible cost in young aviators' lives. Damned determined lot, they were! When I got to that tight little island there was little danger from manned Jerry warplanes. Their rockets were still busting up London real estate, but not to any great extent. A V-2 flopped into a neighborhood one night while I was asleep in a London hotel. Rattled me awake right rudely.

I'm no computer expert but the freezing of the vids might have something to do with RAM. I had mine boosted a while ago. Even so, I still have problems with things running slow if I spend a lot of time watching vids. Anyway, it seems fish 'n' chips didn't appeal to Art during his stint in Britain, and neither did Shepherd's pie hehe. But he did fancy Steak & Kidney pie. It's all to do with the quality of the ingredients in my book. Sydney's most famous fish 'n' chip restaurant was Doyle's at Rose Bay. People queued up for ages to get a table, and the fish was always freshly caught. When I had my little house in Glebe, the local fish 'n' chip shop/restaurant was Frying Times, a very popular eatery run by a co-op of young blokes, one of whom took great delight in teasing the hell outta me. It was a BYO so the bottle shop across the road did a roaring trade.

Here's another pic of Doyles looking back toward the city. How's that for fish 'n' chips?

The old Ford pics also brought back memories for Art: Pretty old Fords. When two hail storms in one hour made my spiffy little Studebaker too ugly to look at, I bought a '48 Ford which had been re-engineered into a hot muscle car. Twin Dynetone mufflers, ground cylinder head to boost take-off velocity, etc. I wore it out completely and still got $100 for it. All it needed was a radiator, engine, and differential, he he.

Now, did Art mean pretty old Fords or pretty old Fords? I'll give that a bit of thought. No wonder Francois can't understand English.

Beeb time: Up to 10 times more oil than originally estimated is now thought to be leaking from a cargo ship stranded on a reef off the New Zealand coast, officials say. It's a worry. Now if cars ran on hydrogen, it wouldn't be a problem. Steve Jobs' immediate cause of death was respiratory arrest, as cancer spread to other organs in his body, his death certificate reveals. I hope the poor bugger didn't suffer too much. US shares rise sharply as investors take comfort from the pledge by French and German leaders to protect European banks from the debt crisis. Investors want profit without risk. Is that called an oxymoron?

Hmmm. Not a big news day according to the BBC. There was one story about a bloke using his cellphone to take a photograph of his daughter eating an ice cream at a parlor. He was questioned by a security guard and asked to delete all photos from his phone. A couple of years ago, I was taking pics of a guy with lizards, snakes and small crocs at the local shopping center. A security guard approached me and said a woman had complained that I was taking pics of small children in the audience. She was correct - I was. Sheesh. What the hell's wrong with a kid petting a lizard? The world's gone nuts. Apart from that, I was using a big camera with a long lens, not a little cellphone. I certainly wasn't trying to hide what I was doing. Anyway, the security guard was pretty cool about it and didn't ask me to delete anything.

Meanwhile, my ISP responded to my query about returned mail and suggested I set my outgoing mail server to Guess what? It already is. That's the default. Sheesh. Next! BTW, it's AOL that refuses to "talk" with Comcen, not the other way around.

Well, that's about it for another Chewsdee. Filet steaks, mash and onions for THEM and leftover rissoles, mash and onions for me. Oh... there was a bit of drama early this morning. I waddled to the loo at about 4am, pushed the door open and guess who was sitting on the throne with a horrified look on her face? Sue. What a way to start the day. Not hers, MINE. Gary

October 10, 2011. NC Art clicked on the pic of the tailor's chariot yesterday without success. So here's another one. It's a 1950/1 Ford Custom. I remember my older bro talking about single and twin spinners. He was a master of useless information, and still is. But the Ford model I really like - my all-time fav - was the one just after the war... the one the young bloke polished in Karate Kid. What a gorgeous machine!

Yes, if I had a car like that I would never sell it. NEVER.

Art had this comment to make about the Matthew Shepard story on Justin's blog: Our reprehensible representative Ms. Fox uses willful ignorance to pander to the lowest common denominator of bigots. She has been regularly ridiculed for outrageous lies and thrives on it as examples of the "elite lame stream press," a phrase popularized by Fox News opinionators such as Bill O'Reilly. Takes all kinds, even old gay sinners, ya think?

And Oregon Richie had this to say: I did view the article about Matt Shepard and remember all too well the US Congresswoman who made those coarse and crass statements about her version of hate-crime legislation.  Of course, the pair who tortured and murdered Matt were far more than simply homophobes and their use of drugs affecting already sick brains is one horrific and jolting episode in a long history of jolting episodes.  Pretty damned sick.  The boy certainly had a tortured enough life as it was.

Yes, sick minds. Unlike sick bodies, sick minds are not always recognizable until too late. My ex-biz partner had a sick mind and I was too stupid to see it. By the time I did, it was all over bar the shouting. As to "takes all kinds", yes, hehe. I had a friend who said that about me many years ago as he stepped off the bus. I never saw him again. Over the years, I've had many people accuse me of being strange, weird, odd, stubborn or whatever else. These days I just shrug. I'm too lazy to argue. Besides, more often than not, my accusers are not the full quid themselves, and even if they were, so what.

Just checked the weather for the next week... sunny, mild, maybe a shower or two. Sounds pretty good. I'm running out of excuses not to go for a drive and bit of happy snapping.

Beeb time: At least 23 people have been killed and scores injured in the worst violence since Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February. Clashes broke out after a protest in Cairo against an attack on a church in Aswan province last week which Coptic Christians blame on Muslim radicals. We must remain mindful of the fact that Muslims don't have a monopoly on being radical. Libyan interim government forces say they have captured a key bastion of Gaddafi loyalists in Sirte as street fighting continues in the city. Ho hum. Get it over and done with, chaps. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has married American heiress Nancy Shevell at a ceremony in London. The couple posed for pictures outside Old Marylebone Town Hall register office after being showered with confetti by wedding guests. Ms Shevell, 51, from New York, is an heiress to a haulage fortune. She is Sir Paul's third wife after Linda McCartney died in 1998 and he split from second wife Heather Mills in an acrimonious divorce in 2008. When asked how he felt after tying the knot for a third time, Sir Paul told waiting reporters: "Terrific, thank you. I feel married," adding, "I feel absolutely wonderful." Well, why not make hay while the sun's still shining? I could say something about Oregon Richie but I won't. Crews are racing to extract oil from a leaking ship stranded on a reef off New Zealand, ahead of gale-force winds and swells forecast for Monday. The MV Rena container ship, has already leaked 20-30 tonnes of oil since it struck the Astrolabe Reef, in the Bay of Plenty, on Wednesday. Officials fear that, if the ship breaks up in the bad weather, 1,700 tonnes of fuel could be released into the area. With all these modern navigational aids, how can a ship run aground on a reef? I don't get it. Human error? Probably. US pianist Roger Williams, who topped the Billboard charts in the 1950s with his solo performance of Autumn Leaves, has died in Los Angeles aged 87. Williams, the only performer to have a US number one with a piano solo, had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. The musician was known as "the pianist to the presidents", having performed for US leaders from Harry Truman to George W Bush. Ex-First Lady Nancy Reagan called him "a great pianist and a great American". In an interview in 1995, Williams said that he liked listening to and playing all genres of music. "The only thing I have against rock'n'roll is the volume," he said. Hehe. Yes, I quite like his stuff and always have. One reason optimists retain a positive outlook even in the face of evidence to the contrary has been discovered, say researchers. A study, published in Nature Neuroscience, suggests the brain is very good at processing good news about the future. However, in some people, anything negative is practically ignored - with them retaining a positive world view. Yep, that's what I reckon. We're all just a bunch of chemicals. Police in the US state of Ohio have arrested four men suspected of assaulting a 74-year-old member of the Amish community. He is one of several Amish people in the state who have had their hair and beards forcibly removed in apparent efforts to humiliate them. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdallah said two more people were being sought. Suspicion has fallen on a breakaway Amish group rejected by the mainstream community. The Amish, who call themselves the Plain People, generally shun modern conveniences such as electricity, televisions and cars. And evolution. But it just goes to show that even within fringe groups, there are breakaway fringes... people who believe their fringe is better than the other guy's fringe

Yes, chemicals. Mix one with another and you get a particular reaction. Boom, boom. People who begin a sentence with "I think" should probably change it to "My chemicals tell me..."

Just phoned my mobile techie about the new external hard drive. It's saving all my files in some sort of zipped fashion and I can't understand it. Anyway, it was the boss who answered the phone. The young bloke Beau who did the installation is in hospital having a donated cornea transplanted... obviously from someone who no longer exists. Spooky!

Which reminds me of something I thought about before my mouth lesion was pronounced non-malignant. It had occurred to me that I might be destined for a permanent exit before I'd expected it and, naturally, I thought about death and mortality and all that stuff. I concluded that death is it. The End. Kaput. Finito. Fade to Black. And then I thought about this desire the living have to "be remembered". But what is the point of a compliment if you're not around to hear it? Hehe. All the eulogies and tributes made about people after their demise fall on deaf ears... unless you count the people in attendance. Shakespeare, for example, has no idea he's still being lauded as one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time. Tutankhamun has no idea we're ogling his remains after thousands of years. Hitler is not aware of being one of the most reviled lunatics in history. Cody doesn't know his web site is still on the web. When we attend a person's funeral, guess who's missing?

It occurred to me as I was thinking these thoughts that it's important to make some kind of contribution to the species during our lifetime; to use our time on Earth constructively. But it's only important to us while we exist. After that, it's of no consequence to us at all. Agree or disagree? Dozen madder.

And another thing... I disagree with the expression "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder". I think it should be "in the Mind of the Beholder". The eye is just a lens.

I uploaded a couple of new pics to Red Bubble with stories more interesting than the photographs themselves. That Was Then, This Is Now. And Don't Bother Me.

Just spotted this old Movietone Newsreel from WWII about how the Brits won the battle of the skies with their Spitfires and Hurricanes against Nazi bombers and Messerschmitts. NC Art didn't even get a mention! On the other hand, he wasn't there until 1944/5. Here's another newsreel about British wartime aircraft production.

And here's another Youchewb vid I came accross by accident, but I'm glad I did... a most fascinating interview with Billy Connolly in 5 parts. Make the time to check it out. Now do what you're told or I'll come back in my next life and haunt you.

And now, if you'll pardon me, I have fish 'n' chips to eat. Gary

October 9, 2011. Seems like my latest attempt to reply to Richie's mail failed. According to the mail system, AOL refused to talk to my email client. But my replies to NC Art get knocked back as well, and he doesn't use AOL, so buggered if I know. I just forwarded the Returned Email message to my ISP so we'll see what happens.

NC Art commented on the iconic Coke bottle: Some 30 years ago, the folks at Coca-Cola decided the bottle was old and tired, so the smartasses designed a new one. It was a grand flop because Coke lovers wouldn't buy the thing and raised an unholy stink about it. Back to the old shape that fit the hand so well. C'est le guerre as the Frenchies say.

C'est la geurre is also the name of a New Zealand racehorse that won the New Zealand Derby by 4 lengths in 2008. :o)

Art is a lot more adventurous than I about trying exotic foods: My wife was horrified when I ordered shark steak at a yacht basin restaurant in Seattle. I told her, "If the shark would eat me, I will eat the shark." The thing was tasty but a bit tough. Likewise, I found squid quite palatable when fried lightly and seasoned with mild tartar sauce. Note: If you buy scallops at the market, you may be sautéing sliced squid arms/legs/tentacles--whatever the hell those appendages are.

I'm sure people who buy cheap fish fingers and other manufactured fish foods are eating shark without realizing it. As to squid and calamari, forget it. I can't handle the look of it. I said to a fishmerman friend after he had demolished a plate of calamari, "I dunno how you can put that stuff in your mouth!" Quick as flash he said, "You should talk!" (a reference to my sexual orientation). So I shuddup after that. Another trick of his after he'd had a few too many drinks was to put a raw baitfish in his glass of wine and swallow the thing whole. Bleh. One time we were loading whole tuna onto a boat to burley an area off shore to attract great white sharks. It took two guys to carry just one of those huge tuna but not my fisherman friend... he carried a couple all by himself. He and I co-wrote a fishing series for television... our boss used to call us Mills and Boon.

Beeb time: Street fighting rages in Sirte for a second day as Libyan government forces battle pro-Gaddafi loyalists and civilians queue up to flee. I'm with them... I can't stand noisy neighborhoods either. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said that he will step down from power within the "coming days". Mr Saleh has appeared to be ready to resign several times, but pulled out of deals to stand down at the last moment. He returned to Yemen unexpectedly last month from Saudi Arabia where he had been receiving treatment after his office was shelled in June. He is faced with protests and an insurrection by renegade army units. He has also repeatedly refused to sign a transition deal brokered by Gulf states, and first presented in March, whereby he would hand over power to his vice-president in return for immunity from prosecution. Immunity from prosecution, huh? Is that an admission of guilt or what? At least 14 people die in Syria after security forces open fire on mourners attending the funerals of people killed in violence on Friday. How sick is that? Michael Jackson's three children join thousands of the late pop star's fans for a memorial concert in Cardiff. Prince Michael, 14, Paris, 13, and Blanket, nine, watched acts including Christina Aguilera, Smokey Robinson, Leona Lewis and boy band JLS. They took to the stage dressed in outfits reflecting Jackson's career and were greeted by rapturous applause. The Michael Forever gig honoured the star who died in 2009, aged 50. Jeez, two years already. At least MJ had kids to carry on the legend. The Mexican navy has arrested eight suspects in the murder of 32 people whose bodies were found in the eastern city of Veracruz on Thursday. They are also accused of the murder of 35 others whose corpses were dumped on a main road near the city last month. The navy blamed the killings on a drugs gang known as the New Generation, which is involved in a battle for territory with the rival Zetas cartel. At least 12 suspected members of the Zetas have also been arrested. Take a look at the video of these pathetic creatures. One of the runaway hits of this past summer in New York has not been on Broadway - instead it has been at a most unusual park which is attracting millions of visitors from all around the world. The disused elevated railway track that runs through downtown Manhattan now offers commuters and tourists alike a peaceful escape from the chaos on the busy city streets below. What a brilliant idea! Check out the vid

Actually, I've not ridden the raised monorail in Sydney but I can imagine it would be interesting to gaze down on all the frantic activity below as you breeze along unobstructed above the melee. It's also a neat experience to sit at a table in a coffee lounge near the front window, happily detached from the madness, and watch the passing parade out in the street.

Not everyone was in favor of the monorail when it opened in 1988. Sir Peter Abels, boss of TNT who built the thing, said it would be there for 20 years. My, my, how quickly 20 years pass. It's still going and I expect it will be for a helluva lot longer yet. Funny thing about time... look ahead 20 years and it seems ages away. Look back and it seems like yesterday. The old red rattlers were in service for 60 years. I traveled on those old trains to work and back every week day (except vacations) for 9 years, which works out to be well over 4000 trips... many more if you add incidental trips.

But the trip that blew me away the most was when I walked up the road (as a little kid) and got lost, so I sought help at a tailor's shop and asked directions. The tailor told me to wait while he closed his shop and then drove me home in one of these. Oh, wow. I sat in the back on a big leather seat that seemed huge to me. My feet couldn't reach the floor. No wonder I've never forgotten it. Compared to my father's truck, that thing was a limousine.

Lindsay remarked on the T-bones last night. Said they were terrible. So he's going to shop at the butcher's next time and buy them himself. He says he knows the bloke. Oh? "Yeah, I've had a few chats with him." To my knowledge, Lindsay has bought meat from the butcher about twice in the 10 years we've been here, so he obviously knows the butcher intimately. Sheesh.

Time to call it another day. Yeah... that makes sense. Another day. What else would you call it? I got another email from an old radio colleague today who reminded me of how corny things were back in the 50s and 60s. Do you remember Faron Young? I couldn't believe this vid when I watched it. Hehe. How embarrassing.

Meanwhile, it's 13 years since Matthew Shepard was attacked by homophobes and left for dead. Justin posted this article. Gary

October 8, 2011. Oregon Richie says my replies to his emails are not getting through. This morning I received a message that AOL had refused to "talk" to my ISP. So I phoned my ISP and the guy pressed a few buttons and said "try it again". So I did. Stay tuned. Oops! And now I've got one returned from NC Art. I'll try again.

Lots of fiddling around this morning so it's midday already and I've only just started the Waffle page. AND it's raining again. How dreary.

NC Art comments on yabbies/crayfish: In the streams and farm ponds of my youth crayfish were common, but too small to bother eating. Also, my father considered them unfit for human consumption. The creatures thrived and grew large in Gulf Coast waters such as New Orleans, with its swamps and bayou. And they tasted quite good if you had time to tackle a tub of them for a belly full. One Maine lobster, however was a fully satisfying meal. The crayfish ranks just above fried rattlesnake which is not worth the struggle. Taste is similar to chicken, but an ordeal to tease out tiny bits of flesh from a pile of bones. After an hour of rattlesnake resistance I could have eaten a plate sized T-bone steak for dessert. Rattlesnake is a delicacy in desert regions in the American Southwest.

Never dined on snake (or lobster or crayfish or Balmain Bugs for that matter). Australian Aborigines used to catch goannas and throw them on the fire. They say it tastes like chicken. Yuck. They were also fond of witchety grubs, eaten raw - straight down the screech. Double yuck. However, I am quite partial to prawns, especially fried in garlic. Art also mentioned oysters: A great treat in New Orleans is the raw oyster bar some hotels would offer all you could eat for $1.00. I looked for excuses to visit New Orleans, especially if I could finagle a trip on the public dime as a city councilman. On one trip, our city attorney was shoveling in the oysters, but suddenly excused himself. Seems he had slid a bad oyster in his mouth but it was down the gullet before he could react. He spent a lot of time in the loo that night. Charming. A friend once said, "How can you not like oysters if you've never tried one?" So I did. And that was the first and last. Art went on to talk about Cajun: Cajun cooking in Louisiana is one hot experience. Everything that wiggles or grows winds up in some pot along with a helluva lot of HOTT peppers. Shrimp and rice; okra and fish or lamb; whatever. It's all tasty if you can handle a flaming tongue for an hour! I'm also quite partial to spicy stuff like cayenne, chilli, garlic, curries, etc. I really do like Indian food... and most Asian... anything with a bit of extra oomph.

Beeb time: The forces of Libya's transitional government have fought their way into the centre of Sirte, one of the last cities loyal to ex-leader Col Gaddafi. Columns of smoke rose above the city as government forces fought their way in, street by street, until they reached the Ouagadougou conference centre where pro-Gaddafi loyalists are holed up. At least 12 people were killed and more than 190 injured, doctors said. Thousands of civilians have left Sirte but many have remained behind. The two sides battered each other with mortar shells, rockets and tank fire in what transitional government forces have described as the final assault on Sirte, some 360km (225 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli. Ya gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. But some people don't. The famous cannabis-selling coffee shops of the Netherlands are facing new tighter restrictions. The Dutch government is reclassifying high-strength cannabis to put it in the same category as hard drugs. It says the amount of the main active chemical in the drug, THC, has gone up, making it far more potent than a generation ago. It means the coffee shops will be forced to take the popular, high-strength varieties off their shelves. Dutch politicians say high-strength cannabis, known as "skunk", is more dangerous than it was before. In the future, anything containing more than 15% THC will be treated the same way as hard drugs, such as cocaine and ecstasy. If people were satisfied with reality, there'd be no Donald Duck. Microsoft's $8.5bn (£5.4bn) takeover of internet phone service Skype is approved by European authorities. Heard of it. Never used it. A UK ticket-holder has won £101m (117m euros) on Euromillions - the third largest lottery jackpot in UK history. It is not yet known if the prize has gone to a single person, a couple or a syndicate, the National Lottery said. It is the second major Euromillions win in the UK this year - in July, Colin and Chris Weir, from Ayrshire, won a record European lottery prize of £161m. Silly people buying lottery tickets. Don't they realize they have no chance of winning anything? Ten years after the war started, all major stakeholders in Afghanistan - the US government, Nato, the Afghan government, its neighbours and even the Taliban - are all on the clock. They know when the war will end, or at least the foreign piece of it. This, as some predicted, interferes with mission accomplishment, achieving a political resolution that ends the insurgency and politically stabilises Afghanistan. Success in Afghanistan, and more importantly next door in Pakistan, requires doing something right now: putting more time on the clock. This doesn't require changing the Obama administration's existing mission, rather negotiating its successor. The sooner the better. Yes, I agree. It ain't over till the fat lady sings. Read the full article here. Dutch National Railways is introducing emergency plastic bags for passengers to urinate in as part of its first-aid provision on some commuter trains. Spokesman Jeroen von Geusau told the BBC "wee bags" would be installed on commuter trains without toilets. He said the bags were for use in emergencies such as power failures. "When you have to wait three or four hours on a train, then it is quite logical you have some people aboard who need to go to a restroom," he said. Yep, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go. The US economy added 103,000 jobs in September, ahead of many economists' expectations. But the jobless rate was stuck at 9.1%, according to latest data from the Department of Labor. Any improvement is welcome. Oscar-nominated Australian actress Diane Cilento, who was once married to Sean Connery, has died aged 78. The star, who passed away at the Cairns Base Hospital, close by her Queensland home, rose to fame in the early 1960s opposite stars such as Charlton Heston. She was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar for her role as Molly in the 1963 movie Tom Jones. There ya go... I had no idea she was an Aussie. That pic would have been taken in the early 60s when the Opera House was still under construction. Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Coca-Cola bottle and Christ are history's top iconic images, according to an Oxford professor. Martin Kemp has collated a selection of 11 images for his book Christ To Coke - How Image Becomes Icon. A print of Che Guevara, the US flag and Nick Ut's photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam were also included on the list. He said he wanted to explore why iconic images have "achieved their status". He added: "The 11 images here are as secure and universal in their iconic status as any cultural products can ever claim to be." I'll paste the list below, but I'm surprised the VW Beetle didn't make it. 

1. Christ
2. The Cross
3. The Heart
4. The Lion
5. Mona Lisa
6. Che
7. Napalmed and Naked
8. Stars and Stripes
9. Coke: The Bottle
10. DNA
11. E=mc²
Click here for the pictures.

And that's it for Satdee. T-bones and onions for THEM and I'll pig out on bolognaise pizza with extra olives. Gary

October 7, 2011. When I mentioned my extraneous hair invasion the other day, TX Greg responded with this link to a Youchewb vid about 'second puberty'.

Francois also responded to my mention of his being crazy, and insists that life would be boring without some craziness. I agree. However, Francois says I get a zero in geography: I've never climbed in the Pyrénées which are very far (for France) from Nice where I lived: more than 500km at the spanish border... I climbed in the Alps which are at the border of Italy, then Italy/Swiss... Really not the same: Pyrénées reach just 3400m, Alps 4807m at the Mont Blanc, very famous mountain I climbed many times (I lost the count) by some tens ways... or the Materhorn you'd see in the background... In my site I put only some pics of rock climbing taken near Nice for the most.

NC Art also commented on things mountainous: G'day GaRy, National Geographic mentioned that Blue Mountains are not mountains at all, but layers of silty deposits laid down over millions of years. The "canyons" are hellishly deep rifts covered lushly with eucalyptus trees, giant ferns, and streams that host yabbies, giant Australian crayfish.  A sacred place in the Blue Mountains called Mt. Warning is also mentioned in your "Green Room" book. or have I got this all bollixed up?

Bollixed would seem an appropriate term in this case. Hehe. The Blue Mountains are just west of Sydney. Much further north up the coast, near the NSW/Qld border is Mt Warning, so named by Jimmy Cook, captain of the Endeavour back in 1770, because of its proximity to Danger Reefs. Mt Warning is known as Wollumbin by the local Bundjalung Aboriginal tribe. It was the closest thing I could find to Table Mountain/Cape Town/beaches, etc.

Some years ago I was advised by a lawyer friend in the US to write Green Room. I was hesitant at first because I wasn't keen on reviving all those memories and reliving the death of my best friend. But I relented because "you'll regret it if you don't". NC Art had a similar experience with a friend of his: Yesterday I had a phone call from a college mate who'd been silent for three years. We lost track of each other for 50 years, got back in touch, met once, then silence. I saw his name on Facebook, posted a note and got the call after a week. Weird. Sadly Dick has Parkinson's disease now, and his long-time companion is taking care of things. Dick refused to acknowledge his sexual orientation until his mid thirties, when he met his lifetime friend, a student in a class he was teaching at university. I urged him to write his beautiful story. Now he has waited too long.

But getting back to yabbies. They're also called Balmain Bugs in Oz, and are a real delicacy. I've never had one. They're kinda like mini lobsters... fresh water crayfish. They're quite common in creeks and shallow rivers. I believe that deep sea "lobsters" caught off the coast of Oz are actually crayfish. The difference between the two species has something to do with their claws (I think). Otherwise, it's six of one, half dozen of the other. If you think that Balmain Bug in the pic is big, check out the crayfish I photographed a couple of years ago aboard a local fisherman's boat. The guy posed with those monsters before throwing them back... too big to keep because, as he said, they are "breeders". Lobsters below or above a certain size have to be returned to the sea by law. Same thing applies to fish. It's probably a good thing it doesn't apply to people being rescued by lifesavers hehe.

There are two council blokes outside. One's mowing the nature strips, and the other is wandering around with a noisy blower, blowing all the grass clippings off the pavement. Hehe. Not a bad job.

Beeb time: After 10 years in Afghanistan, the US still lacks the knowledge to bring the conflict to a successful end, retired Army Gen Stanley McChrystal has said. Gen McChrystal said US and Nato allies were barely over half-way towards reaching their goals in the country. "Operation Enduring Freedom" was aimed at tracking down Osama Bin Laden after 9/11 and eliminating the Taliban. The UN says more than 10,000 Afghan civilians have died because of the fighting in the past five years alone. More than 2,500 international troops have been killed - most of them American. The conflict has already surpassed Vietnam to become the longest war in US history. On the other hand, there are those who say walking away now would be a waste of all the effort and lives so far, and to relinquish imminent victory. Who do you believe? A Pakistani commission investigating the US raid that killed Osama Bin Laden says a doctor accused of helping the CIA should be tried for high treason. Dr Shakil Afridi is accused of running a CIA-sponsored fake vaccine programme in Abbottabad, where Bin Laden was killed, to try to get DNA samples. He was arrested shortly after the 2 May US raid that killed the al-Qaeda chief. The commission has been interviewing intelligence officials and on Wednesday spoke to Bin Laden family members. Pakistan, which was deeply embarrassed by the raid, has described the covert US special forces operation as a violation of its sovereignty. So what was the US supposed to do? Ask Pakistan's permission? I suspect Bin Laden would still be alive today if they had. World and business leaders pay tribute to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who has died at 56 after battling pancreatic cancer. The problem with posthumous tributes is that they arrive too late for the person to whom the tributes are directed. The South Pacific community of Tokelau says it will jump to the other side of the international dateline, following a similar move by Samoa. A tiny New Zealand-administered territory of three islands, Tokelau lies to the north of Fiji, approximately half-way between Hawaii and the Australian coast. It lies to the east of the line, putting it 23 hours behind Wellington. Once it jumps it will be the first part of New Zealand to see the sun rise. Jovilisi Suveinakama, general manager of the Tokelau Liaison Office in Samoa, said it was a logical move closely linked to the Samoan decision. "We usually have a situation where New Zealand calls us on Sunday, their Monday, and there is nobody in our office and likewise we do call them on our Friday, there is nobody in the office because it is Saturday, so we'll be seeing some very practical benefits in terms of this dateline change," he said. Makes sense to me! US President Barack Obama has said his jobs act would insure the American economy against another downturn, even while the situation in Europe worsens. He told reporters at the White House that lawmakers should think "long and hard about what's at stake" before the bill goes to the Senate next week. Mr Obama has been touring the US in recent weeks to promote his $447bn (£290bn) American Jobs Act. Republicans reject a proposed tax rise on wealthier people to pay for it. Don't ask the poor people... they're broke. Libya's ousted leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has called on Libyans to come on to the streets "in their millions" to resist the nation's interim leaders. In an audio message broadcast on Syrian-based Arrai television, he says conditions in Libya have become "unbearable". There's a pretty good reason for that, Colonel, or haven't you figured that out yet? Death is life's best invention, so said Steve Jobs. Listen to his voice here. US singer David Cassidy has sued Sony, claiming he has not been paid royalties for sales of Partridge Family merchandise which bear his image. The 70s TV show made Cassidy, 61, an international star. A string of spin-off merchandise included lunchboxes, magazines and board games. Cassidy told broadcaster CNN that Sony had breached his 1971 contract which gave him 15% of sales. He is demanding "in excess of millions of dollars". I remember his pic in Rolling Stone magazine when we all got a glimpse of his pubes. Hehe. Thank god he wasn't 61 back then! Ew! 

I've added a few new favorites to my Red Bubble page if you're interested. I don't favorite all that many... just a few now and then that jump out at me.

Guess what? Yes, it's THAT time again. An easy one tonight... fish cakes and chips. And a squeeze of lemon (that I just picked off the tree). BTW, last night's rissoles were yummy. I only buy what I need so yesterday I bought ONE stick of celery and ONE small carrot. Hey, I don't want a whole bunch of the stuff! One stick of celery and one small carrot, plus an onion, is all I need to chop and mix with the beef mince. And a sprinkle of herbs. Besides, if the supermarket is willing to sell them loose, that's fine with me. What the hell would I do with a kilo of carrots? Anyway, last night's meal cost about $1.50 per head, and there are two rissoles left over. Gary

October 6, 2011. Francois wrote: It's Canyoning in french... And I did this beautiful sport some tens years ago, often in family: that's one the activities I'm sorry to not be able to do anymore. Anyway this memories are good ones: Thanks to your friend NC Art to make me think again to this... There are wonderful canyons everywhere in the world, even here in NC (New Caledonia). Canyon= clue in french and btw this pics are 25 or 30 years old and I scanned them some 10 years ago when I quitted France, so the pics aren't very good: maybe you can spot me on 2 pics anyway... I hope good news from your doctors. 

Thanks, Francois. As I wrote Oregon Richie this morning, there's nothing I can think, say or do to change whatever outcome is in store for me, so I'm just rolling with the flow and not worrying too much about anything. Que sera sera, oui? As to canyoning, I've never done it but I did go caving (spelunking) when I was about 20. It was at a place called Wombeyan and the caves were sink holes that zig-zagged their way down through the cliff tops and eventually emerged far below on the cliff face. At one place, deep underground, we arrived at a large cavern. At one end, there was a small hole just big enough for a person to crawl through. So we tied a rope to the feet of one of the guys and sent him through the opening to see if it led anywhere. If it didn't we could pull him back with the rope. Hehe. Sheesh. Anyway, as it turned out, the small tunnel led to a huge cathedral-like cavern with lots of stalactites and stalagmites, so we all took turns (there were about six of us) to crawl through the tunnel on our bellies. Bloody hell, I must have been crazy. I would NEVER do anything like that these days. Too much of a wuss. Eventually, one of the guys became claustrophobic and we headed back to the surface where we camped for the night. I still can't believe I did that. Just the memory scares the hell outta me.

I believe the Wombeyan Caves have been opened up to tourists with walkways and access much improved. I was there in the mid 60s when nothing had changed for tens of thousands of years. We didn't see another soul when we were there.

By the way, Francois was quite a famous mountaineer in his younger days, climbing the Pyrenees. He was crazy back then and nothing's changed since.

I just saw on Justin's blog that Apple co-founder Steven Jobs died on Wednesday aged 56. “Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” the company said. “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve..."  Just goes to show you don't need to live a long life to make a big difference.

The pic on Justin's blog is of Steve making a speech, with his right index finger raised. Isn't the index finger wonderful? We can wag it at someone when we're chastising them, we can raise it to make a point, we can use it as a thermometer to test the temperature of something, we can use it to wipe our butts, we can use it to press buttons and turn lights on, we can use it for all kinds of unmentionable things... the list is endless.

Back from the doc. The lesion is not malignant. Nasty, yes, but not malignant. Just to be sure, she wants to check it again in 6 weeks. Then we can make a decision about having it surgically removed at the local hospital. No chemo, no radiation, no traveling to Newcastle. So I said to her, "Are you serious?" And she said, "Yes." I said, "What about all my neighbors? They're making funeral arrangements! What am I gonna tell them? They'll be sooo disappointed!" She's Indian, and wasn't sure if I was joking or not. Hehe. Meanwhile, it looks like I'll be hanging around this planet for a bit longer yet.

Beeb time: Steve Jobs, co-founder of US computer giant Apple, dies, aged 56, after a career that transformed digital technology with a series of innovations. There's a man who will go down in history as one of the great innovators. Thousands of protesters have marched on New York's financial district, with rallies also held in other US cities. Powerful unions gave a high-profile boost to the long-running demonstrations, as their members joined the rally in lower Manhattan. Students at several US colleges walked out of classes in solidarity. The activists have vented grievances over the 2008 corporate bailouts, high US unemployment and home repossessions, among other things. Blame the system, not the victims, they said. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin declares she will not run for the White House in the 2012 presidential elections. There ya go, a bit of good news for a change. A form of cloning has been used to create personalised embryonic stem cells in humans, say researchers. Genetic material was taken from an adult skin cell and transferred into a human egg. This was grown to produce an early embryo. Stem cells have huge potential in medicine as they can transform into any other cell type in the body. Do you get the feeling this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg? Afghan intelligence officials say they have arrested six people who they believe were planning to assassinate President Hamid Karzai. The alleged plotters had recruited one of Mr Karzai's bodyguards and had possible links to the militant Haqqani network, the officials said. Analysts say the arrests may be seen as part of a plan to discredit Pakistan. Relations between the two countries are tense over alleged links between Pakistan and Haqqani militants. Yes, not the happiest of neighbors, which could be a bit of a worry. A recording of Michael Jackson bemoaning his unhappy childhood has been played to the trial of the doctor charged with his death. In the audio recorded six weeks before the star's death, an apparently drugged Jackson tells Conrad Murray about his plans to stage a series of concerts. Jackson says the shows in London will be for children as he did not have a childhood. Personally, I think it's a mistake to be obsessed with what you don't or never had. What you have now, and what you want in the future is what matters. Dozens of stone-throwing youths have clashed with police in Athens as public sector workers went out on strike in protest at Greece's austerity measures. The 24-hour strike saw flights and ferry services cancelled, government offices and tourist sites closed, and hospitals working with reduced staff. Many strikers expressed frustration and anger at the cuts. I don't get it. How is that gonna solve the problem? A third of post-9/11 veterans say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been worth fighting, an opinion poll by the Pew Research Center suggests. The view by 33% of those veterans was shared by 45% of the general public, according to the research. About six out of 10 veterans said the US should focus less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems. Half of post-9/11 veterans thought the Afghan war worth it, while 44% said the same of the Iraq conflict. Among members of the general public, 41% thought the Afghan war worth it and 36% believed the same of the Iraq war. Of course, we'll never know what the situation would be now if the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had never taken place. The Murray-Darling Basin, in south-east Australia, is the country's breadbasket. But following more than a decade of drought, the government wants farmers there to cut their water usage drastically - proposals that have provoked a furious reaction. Australian farmer John Ward says he has one thing on his mind as he drives around parts of New South Wales these days. Water. It's like the situation in Greece... you can't use what isn't there. But I've seen documentaries about farming more efficiently with less water, and I'm confident that a solution will be found. If a cactus can do it, so can we. A tourist killed when a helicopter crashed into a river in New York City, injuring three others, had been celebrating her birthday. Sonia Marra, who died in the tragedy, had gone to the US to celebrate her 40th and see her family again for the first time in years, said a colleague. Ms Marra had been employed at a fruit and vegetable market in the Sydney suburb of Glebe, said colleague Joe Galluzzo. The trip to New York had been a surprise gift from Ms Tamaki, Mr Galluzzo said, and Ms Marra had been excited about being reunited with her family, whom she had not seen in years. Glebe, my old stomping ground. What a terrible end to a birthday surprise. The nest of a biting venomous spider has been found in a Buckinghamshire garden and council officers have warned residents to be on the alert for more. Milton Keynes pest controllers have dealt with the nest of a false widow spider but believe there may be others. The nest was found in Bletchley and officers warn the spiders give a bite which is not lethal but is painful. God, that wouldn't even make the news here in Oz. Those kinds of spiders, such as redbacks, are as common as muck over here. 

Almost 5pm and time to think about kitchen duties. Lindsay said he fancied some rissoles tonight. I could have bought ready-made ones but they're not the same. So silly me said I'll make my own. It means buggerizing around with chopping carrot, celery and onion, and mixing it all in with the beef mince, and adding herbs and a bit of this and that, and then shaping and crumbing them, but... they taste good. I'll serve them with mash and gravy. Gary

October 5, 2011. NC Art is aware of the latest cancer research: G'day Gay, G'day who? Never mind... no one's perfect... Aussies and a gang of other researchers are zeroing in on nasty cancer cells. Another approach is a possible treatment which targets malignant cells, binds to it and shuts down its blood supply. To keep up its vitality and division, the cell creates a network of arteries. Some promising counter measures have been developed in the last few years. Sounds like the Ozguys are working toward something similar--target only the abnormal cells and keep it from reproducing.

Art has also been taking a peek at Oz: National Geographic magazine has a nifty story and pix on "canyoneering" in the Blue Mountains. Looked hairy, scary, but beautiful. The sport is a combination of spelunking and rappelling, I guess. Yep, the Blue Mountains are quite spectacular. It was a mammoth struggle for early explorers Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson to find a way over the mountains but once they did, it opened up the whole of the vast western plains to farming and gold mining. Even these days, it's fairly common to hear of campers and hikers getting lost in the Blue Mountains and having to be rescued. They're not all that far out of Sydney actually... about 60 miles I think.

The other day I put the goggles on and checked the bathroom mirror for extraneous facial hair. I was horrified to see the stuff taking over my nostrils, and producing small forests in my ears. My eyebrows were threatening to bury the rest of me under a haystack. So I whipped out the little scissors and did a bit of snipping. I have no idea why hair does that as one gets older. I'm happy with the stuff on my crown but I really don't need it elsewhere. The thing is, my vision ain't as sharp as it useta was and unless I wear my glasses in the bathroom I fail to notice the hairy assault. I'd hate to think what the checkout chicks think. Hehe.

Beeb time: China and Russia veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria over its crackdown on anti-government protesters. Surprise, surprise. That would be like the pot calling the kettle black. A tearful Amanda Knox says she is "overwhelmed" at being back on US soil after her acquittal for the murder of UK student Meredith Kercher. What a dreadful ordeal that must have been. A helicopter has plunged into a river in New York City, killing a woman and critically injuring two other people. Witnesses described how the privately owned Bell 206 aircraft spun out of control after take-off and fell into the East River near 34th Street in midtown Manhattan. Joy Garnett, a witness on a nearby dock, told the Associated Press that the aircraft had risen about 25ft (8m) off the ground, before spinning two or three times and dropping into the water. The helicopter flipped over, its blades sticking up out of the water, and was "obviously out of control", she said. Mayor Bloomberg said "a tragedy like this just breaks your heart", adding that the passengers had come "to see the best of our city". Click here for the full story and video. The Italian government's credit rating is slashed by ratings agency Moody's from Aa2 to A2, amid rising market concerns over the eurozone debt crisis. It's all beyond me. I'm fiscally challenged. Apple has unveiled the latest iteration in its iPhone range, but there was no sign of the widely rumoured iPhone 5. The iPhone 4S, as the model will be known, boasts an improved camera and significantly extended battery life. It has the same look and feel as the existing iPhone 4 which was launched 15 months ago. However, Apple said that updates to iOS meant the phone would boast some "200 new features". I still haven't seen the first one yet! The leaders of Afghanistan and India have signed a strategic partnership agreement during a visit by President Hamid Karzai to Delhi. Mr Karzai met Indian PM Manmohan Singh, who said violence in Afghanistan was undermining security in South Asia. He also said that India would "stand by Afghanistan" when foreign troops withdraw from the country in 2014. Mr Karzai's visit follows a series of attacks which have damaged ties between Kabul and India's rival, Pakistan. Correspondents say the increasingly close relationship between Kabul and Delhi will be viewed with some suspicion by Pakistan, which sees Afghanistan as its backyard. Not exactly a surprising development. India and Pakistan are not the best of friends, and they both have nuclear weapons

Yes, but what does an iPhone actually DO? I checked on Youchewb and there are a lot of bogus links. God knows what kinda bugs I ended up getting in my laptop... I had to reboot. Frankly, if I caught the bastards who upload such crap I'd happily strap them to an ant nest and film their agonizing deaths. In any case, if an iPhone doesn't do everything a regular laptop does, I'm not interested. No full-size qwerty keyboard, no Gary. One vid I managed to watch showed the iPhone with a laser keyboard that projects onto a flat surface like a table. Is that true? It also showed a screen that projects onto a vertical surface. Really? I dunno what to believe anymore.

However I do believe in TX Greg. I found his old email about cleaning up my hard drive, and did the whole thing again. I had 22GB of free space and now I've got 32. Hehe. It's who ya know ya know.

I'm starving. I didn't have any lunch. AND I'M STARVING! It's 5 o'clock. I'm tempted to snack but I better not. It's almost time to cook din dins. Junk tonight. Party pies and party sausages rolls and CHIPS for me and HIM, and scrambled eggs and chips for HER. She doesn't like pastry, silly girl. The party pies and sausage rolls were on spesh so... I couldn't resist. A dollop of tamaaaaata sauce and Bob's yer uncle. 

I received a bill today from the mob that did the biopsy tests. They're hoping to get paid before I cark it. It's the same with the doc. I have to pay then and there before I leave the building hehe. So much for making me feel confident about my chances of survival. Oh well... we're only here for a bloody minute anyway... candles in the wind. If I'd had any brains when I left school I would have gotten into the funeral biz. Showbiz is fulla crooks.

And that's about it for today, ladies and genitals. Oh, by the way, I phoned my old boss Chris Maitland last night to inform him of the demise of my previous boss Alan Ireland who died aged 88 from natural causes. Chris, like me, is ex-radio but still takes a keen interest in the goings on of  former colleagues. Anyway, we chatted for over an hour... well, I did... and he asked me (when he managed to get a word in) if I was still doing any voice over work. I sound pretty flash over the phone ya know. No... afraid not. I lost my confidence long ago and just don't have the whatever to get back into it again. Pity. It's a very lucrative way to make a quid and I could easily make enough to fix Das Busse if I did. Incidentally, Das Busse started first go again today after sitting idle for several weeks. Gary

October 4, 2011. Heard of Dame Edna Everage? Here's the man behind the wigs and glasses (and the other characters), Oz comedian Barry Humphries.

Chewsdee. This Thursdee is when I see the specialist again for the results of the biopsy and a letter of referral to have scans done of my head and neck. I used to get quite of few of those in gay bars years ago. But this is different, of course. I suppose it'll be another couple of weeks before the results of the scans are delivered to the doc, and arrangements are made for whatever treatment she deems necessary. BTW, I watched a story on telly last night about a couple of Aussie researchers who have made a major breakthrough in the treatment of cancer... something that targets the cancer cells without interfering with nearby healthy cells. In other words, your hair doesn't fall out. Previous chemo used the gattling gun approach.

Oh, looky here. I just discovered where the Ten Commandments came from.

The recent exchange of emails with my former colleague at Radio 2KY is bringing back a lot of memories. I learned that my old boss at KY, a scallywag if ever there was one, died recently aged 88. He was quite a character, and we got along very well. Bosses and I rarely saw eye to eye, so Alan was an exception. And in some ways he was a kind of father figure to me. Every time I did him a favor he'd slip me twenty bucks hehe. I've already told the story on the Scrapbook but I'll tell it again. One afternoon I was on air and rang his office to say there were no ads scheduled between 5 and 6. "Don't worry about it. I'm working on it." During the news, he came into the studio with a press ad torn from a newspaper. It was only about 4 inches square with a bit of text. "These people are sponsoring the next hour. Just ad lib around that." Hehe. He was kidding, right? No. So I ad libbed my heart out and the switchboard lit up. Alan was most impressed and shortly thereafter I was given the breakfast shift. Those were the days. Crazy but fun.

Another cloudy and dreary day, but not raining for which I'm thankful. Weather for the rest of the week is all over the joint. But at least the temperature will improve a bit. This is supposed to be the driest inhabited continent on earth! Yeah, right. However, inland it's a different story. Dryzabone out there.

Beeb time: Amanda Knox and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito have been cleared of killing UK student Meredith Kercher following a successful appeal in Perugia, Italy. Miss Knox, 24, and Mr Sollecito, 27, had been convicted in 2009 of murdering the Leeds University student, 21, from south London, two years earlier. American Miss Knox sobbed as they were freed after nearly four years in jail. So now what happens to the original prosecution and judge? Eurozone ministers delay a decision on giving Greece the next instalment of bailout cash, after Athens fails to meet this year's deficit target. I guess it only takes one flat tire to stop a whole bus. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a thinly veiled attack on Pakistan, has said a "double game" is being played in the fight against militants. Mr Karzai said Pakistan had not co-operated on security issues "which is disappointing for us", but insisted talks with Islamabad should continue. I get the feeling Karzai would have preferred to use a stronger term than "disappointing". Two Somali men have been sentenced to life in a US prison for their role in the deadly hijacking of a yacht off the coast of Africa in February this year. Muhidin Salad Omar and Mahdi Jama Mohamed were sentenced at a federal court in Norfolk, Virginia. The hijack left all four American yachters dead. They were part of a 19-strong gang that seized the boat south of Oman, hoping to ransom the passengers. More sentences are due in the case on Tuesday. Bastards. Fair-skinned people who are prone to sunburn may need to take supplements to ensure they get enough vitamin D, say experts. It appears that those with pale skin, while not deficient, may still be lacking in the essential vitamin that the body makes from sunlight. The Cancer Research UK-funded team say that even with a lot of sun exposure, those with fair skin may not be able to make enough vitamin D. And too much sun causes skin cancer. That's me, folks. Australia's trade surplus surged in August as exports of coal and other minerals increased despite concerns of a global slowdown. Shipments from Australia grew 8% from the previous month, while imports rose 3%, the statistical bureau said. That resulted in a trade surplus of 3.1bn Australian dollars ($2.9bn; £1.9bn), the second-largest on record. And our dollar's down to 96 cents (and expected to drop further) which will stimulate exports even more (as well as tourism). The surviving Beatles have paid tribute to George Harrison at the London premiere of Martin Scorsese's new documentary about his life. Sir Paul McCartney called the guitarist, who died in 2001, "a great man" and "an all-round good boy". Scorsese told the BBC he had been drawn to tell Harrison's story because of the outlook of his lyrics. "For years, his music seemed to be dealing with themes that I connected with," he said. "I found comfort in them and a hope and a special experience listening to his music. I was fascinated by him." The four mop tops were all remarkable individuals, and it was even more remarkable that they got together to form a band. 

I love pretty much everything George Harrison did but particularly this one. I also thought it was cool when he joined up with the Traveling Wilburys, along with Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan and made great music like The End of the Line.

Well, I think it's time to throw a chicken in the oven (plucked and marinated, of course) and a few spuds. Gary

October 3, 2011. Labor Day. Actually, it's more like non-labor day cos it's a holiday. Anyone (except the self-employed, of course) working today is probably on double pay. It doesn't apply to carers unfortunately. 

TX Greg wrote: Speaking of festivals it's the opening week here for the State Fair of Texas. I can still remember as a little one seeing and hearing Big-Tex say "Howdy Folks".  A behind the scenes look at the voice....... I should sneak in there one of these days and do a "owyagoin, mate, no worries". Greg also mentions the big thing about the fair is all the deep fried foods. Last year they had deep fried butter, haha

NC Art writes: With but one exception my family members  were born with high IQ's. I was short-changed, barely tipping over the dunce level, a condition I frequently found useful as reliable excuse. A few years ago a friend described me as a very erudite gentleman and I didn't even need to Google the word for a definition! Yes, but you have a good memory, Art, and an appetite for knowledge. It's the old story of the hare and the tortoise. Guess who won the race?

Art also wants to know how Green Room is doing on Kindle. As far as I can tell, it's not. It's just sitting there doing nothing. It has become a test of my mental faculties in identifying B stories characters by new names. Why not Kyle, Steve, Mark, Paul et al?Also, a transplant of the whole mob scene from S.A. to Ozland is a bit disorienting. If you think it's disorienting for you, Art, imagine what it was like for me having to relocate everyone and, at the same time, remember all their new names. I also had to be mindful of things like changing buddy to mate, substituting Africans for Australian Aborigines, etc. But for anyone reading Green Room without having read the original stories, it's not a problem. The change was necessary because it was published as an abridged version for general consumption (as opposed to being exclusive to my old web site), and Steve insisted on it for the sake of anonymity. He was understandably concerned about the possibility of the Ts reading about the son they never knew, as well as other characters having their private lives revealed. However, I do admit it wouldn't be too difficult for anyone familiar with the original circumstances to put two and two together after reading Green Room.

Beeb time: Greece says its budget deficits in 2011 and 2012 will fail to meet targets, as EU and IMF inspectors ponder allocating a new bailout instalment. From the glory days of ancient Athens to a basket case. Whatever happened to guys like Onassis? Streams of civilians have been fleeing the Libyan city of Sirte, ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi's birthplace. Travelling in vehicles packed with belongings, they have been queuing at checkpoints leading out of the city. Transitional authority forces say they are observing a truce to encourage the remaining civilians to get out, before launching a final assault. It's weird to see a war being fought with pickup trucks and utilities. A short train ride from central Madrid is a scruffy plot of land covered in weeds and surrounded by wire fencing. In just a couple of months work is expected to start to transform the site into Spain's first ever retirement home for gay and lesbian residents. Spain has been at the vanguard of Europe in terms of gay rights in recent years, but activists say reforming laws has been easier than changing attitudes. Read the full article here. Texas Governor Rick Perry - who is seeking the Republican nomination for US president - has said he would consider sending American troops into Mexico to combat drug-related violence. "It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and keep them off our border," he said. Any deployment of US military forces on Mexican territory would almost certainly be unacceptable to the Mexican authorities. Mexico lost around half its territory to the US after a war in the 1840s, and has since been very protective of its sovereignty. But Perry knows best. Eastman Kodak denies that it plans to file for bankruptcy protection, despite hiring a legal firm well-known for handling such cases. The Box Brownie brought photography to the masses, but it never really succeeded in becoming anything more than basic. I've had Kodak cameras that were very good but the brand has never been able to shake the Box Brownie reputation. Mixed-race people once faced discrimination and hostility in Britain, so how much have things changed? A most interesting article and definitely worth a read

I've been following progress of the local courthouse/police station renovation and construction for most of this year, taking pics on weekends and sometimes during the week. Today I discovered the gate to the work area unlocked. So what did I do? Yeah. But I didn't do anything naughty. I stayed just inside the fence and took a few pics. I suppose I should have gone for a bit of a wander but... well... you know. At the mo, they're fitting windows and working on the interior floors, etc. Looks like it'll be a few months before the joint is finished. The project design is a bit strange really. On the one side you have a 19th century courthouse (a pic I took a few years ago) and right next door a 21st century, two-storey police station. Even the colors don't match. Oh well...

Just got back from shopping and Lindsay reminded me we need more toilet paper. His timing is impeccable. Anyway, there are 3 rolls left. "That won't last long... not the way me and Sue are shittin'." Charming, yes?

Kitchen time again. Pork chops for THEM and... well, I dunno yet. I'm easily pleased. Maybe macaroni. Gary

October 2, 2011. Raining again today, and quite heavily. As you know I didn't venture out to the Old Bar Festival yesterday because of the lousy weather. If I had I could have taken a pic or two of a light plane stuck in a Ferris Wheel.

I saw the story on national TV news last night. The pilot said he decided to abort a landing at the nearby airfield and then tried to gain height for another run. But he didn't see the Ferris Wheel until too late. It's not normally there. It's brought in for the festival and sits on the back of a large truck. The airfield is quite busy during the festival, with joy flights being run by ultra lights and small helicopters. There are also quite a lot of powered hang gliders. Anyway, it's very fortunate that no one was hurt in the accident, apart from having their wits scared out of them. They won't forget that experience in a hurry. The pilot was interviewed later and became quite emotional when he talked about seeing those two little kids trapped in the car after slamming into the wheel.

I think it was about 11am or so when I heard several sirens whizzing past my house in Taree. One of them was an emergency rescue truck. I figured something serious was going on but had no idea of what until I watched the news last night. Hearing anything about Taree or Old Bar on the national news is very unusual indeed. So there ya go... a bit more excitement than the festival organizers had anticipated.

Here's another shot of the trapped ultra light. And another one. And another one. It appears most of the Ferris cars were empty. If it had been a nice sunny day, there may have been a major tragedy.

Meanwhile, here we go again with daylight saving. It's only eastern Oz that has it, excluding Queensland, which makes it all a bit difficult. Cross over the border between NSW and Qld and there's one hour difference. If you work on the Gold Coast and live in Murwillumbah, you need to leave home an hour late to get to work on time. If you watch Brisbane TV, you tune in at 8 to watch the 7 o'clock news. Banana benders reckon daylight saving fades the curtains and upsets the cows at milking time.

Beeb time: The US state department has issued a travel alert to Americans, warning of a heightened risk of violence worldwide in the wake of the killing of key al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. The US-born radical Islamist cleric was killed by US drones in Yemen on Friday. The state department warned his death would provide motivation for retaliation against US interests. Also killed was US-born propagandist Samir Khan, with unconfirmed reports a key Saudi bombmaker also died. In issuing its worldwide travel alert, the state department said: "The death of Awlaki, in the near term, could provide motivation for anti-American attacks worldwide from individuals or groups seeking to retaliate against US citizens or interests because of this action." Yes, tit for tat. Those bloody drongos forget that the Yanks have a helluva lot more tat than their tit. Syrian forces have regained control of the central town of Rastan after days of fighting with defectors who had joined protesters, state media say. Earlier, human rights activists said troops had taken much of the town after the defectors had pulled out of the town in restive Homs province. Dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles had entered, reports say. Meanwhile, opposition members have met in Turkey to forge a united front against President Bashar al-Assad. If you fail to control the hearts and minds of the people, Bashar, then you don't really control anything at all. An ultra-light plane crashes into a Ferris wheel north of Sydney trapping four people for hours, but no one is seriously hurt, Australian officials say. There ya go, it even made the BBC. About 2,000 Bulgarians protest against Roma and what they see as links to organised crime, amid ethnic unrest ahead of presidential elections. Remember that young Bulgarian bloke I knew? I wonder whatever happened to him. Last time I heard, he was talking about a scholarship to study in California. He was a pretty bright dude. Actually, I remember him telling me his IQ was 145+ or something like that, and shooting me down in flames cos mine was only 129. The default retirement age in the UK has been fully abolished after being phased out from April this year. New legislation stops employers from compulsorily retiring workers once they reach the age of 65. However, research by law firm Norton Rose suggests one in 10 firms plans to offer financial incentives to encourage workers to move on at a certain age. The charity Age UK welcomed the legislation but said age discrimination was still prevalent in the workplace. Read Andrew Webster's story. The sale of tobacco from vending machines has been banned in England, with anyone caught selling cigarettes in machines facing a fine of £2,500. The Department of Health said the ban had been introduced to prevent under-age sales to children and to support adults who were trying to quit. The rest of the UK is expected to implement a similar ban next year. Yes, Big Brother knows what's best for you, so just shuddup and do what you're told. Australian swimmer Kenrick Monk has admitted lying to police over a broken elbow he suffered earlier this week. Monk, who won a relay gold at last year's Commonwealth Games and hopes to compete at the 2012 Olympics, had said he was deliberately struck by a car while out training on his bicycle. But he has since confessed that he was injured when he fell off a skateboard. "I was embarrassed. I didn't know what to do. I panicked, I freaked," said the 23-year-old. "Basically to know that I've just fallen off a skateboard, something that a 10-year-old can ride." He was tearful as he admitted the lie, but that doesn't excuse his attempt to avoid the truth. 

A girl who worked at 2KY when I was there back in the mid '70s wrote after finding something I posted on the Scrapbook page. She eventually got into journalism and worked in radio, television and print. Her name is not familiar to me but I'd probably recognize her if I saw her. Anyway, we've been swapping emails and reminiscing about the old times and some of the characters we knew. They were certainly amazing days, never to be repeated. Scallywags have apparently been banned from the industry.

Would you like another Ronnie Corbett monologue? Yeah... why not.

Oregon Richie just sent this link to Obama's speech at the Washington Convention Center during the Human Rights Campaign Dinner. I passed it on to Justin as well. Go get 'em Barack.

Well, here we are in the middle of spring and it's like winter. I've had to turn the heater on the last few nights and it's on again now. A couple of years ago I went out to the Old Bar Festival and it was sunny and bewdiful. I had my cowboy hat on and sun screen! There were a couple of young guys out there shirtless (I just happened to notice). So what's with the global warming thing? Warming? I've gotta turn the bloody heater on to get warm!

Din dins time. Lindsay walked into the kitchen to tell me he heard on the news this morning that they're thinking of closing the Old Bar airfield. Some people are up in arms about the Ferris Wheel accident. The Ferris Wheel is there for 3 days out of 365 but they want the airfield closed for the entire year and all the years after that. It's been there for 80 years. Lindsay agrees that it should be closed. And with an IQ barely equal to his shoe size, why wouldn't he? I better cook dinner before I explode. Gary

October 1, 2011. It's the Labor Day long weekend, and it's WET. I'm sure the Old Bar Festival organizers will be thrilled, as well as thousands of holiday makers who've had their plans ruined. Those Kombis come from all over NSW and interstate for this event, poor buggers. And it's not just gonna rain for one day. Oh no, rain is forecast for the next 4 days. The old airfield at Old Bar will be one big soggy mess.

The weird thing about that grass strip is that there's no building there... no office or anything like that. You just land, park, and toddle off into town. I think there's a wind sock but that's about it. The field was used as a refuelling stopover during WWII, but I think it goes back to the very early days of aviation when flights were a series of hops. Obviously someone is in charge of keeping the field mown and tidy, but I dunno who. If NC Art had known about it, he could have landed his B thingy there in '44 and entertained the locals.

There's a more sophisticated airport in Taree, with proper tarmacs and a terminal, but I'm not sure how long it's been in operation. It's big enough to handle small commuter turbo props like the Saab 340 which flies into and out of Taree twice a day. The local aero club also uses the airport for its base.

I was right about Oregon Richie enjoying Ronnie Corbett's Jungle Joke yesterday. Richie is into short wave radio and all that kinda thing. Good clips 'n snips this morning on WAFFLE and the "Ronnie" one was a classic !!  Or did I get that right?  Perfect English and short-wave radio indeed..... !!  That whole thing was pretty funny with that classic flat-humor and such and the "rough neighborhood" he spoke of.

The thing is, if one is British and cultured, one never refers to the lavatory. Hehe.

I've long been a huge fan of Ronnie Corbett's armchair monologues. He always sat in his favorite chair and made you feel like you were the only person in the audience... just the two of you having a chat, except he did all the chatting. A most amusing man indeed and a wonderful story teller.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama has said the death of senior US-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen is a "major blow" to the organisation. Yemen said Awlaki was killed in Jawf province, along with several of his associates - US officials said US drones had carried out the attack. Awlaki, who was of Yemeni descent, was a key figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He is believed to have been behind a number of attempts to attack the US. Mr Obama said that as a leading AQAP figure, Awlaki had taken the lead in "planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans" and was also "directly responsible for the death of many Yemeni citizens". He said Awlaki had directed attempts to blow up US planes and had "repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda". His death, said Mr Obama, "marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates". There's something terribly wrong going on here. Allah is letting his side down badly. Hey, Allah, baby! Things ain't goin' too well for al-Qaeda. What's the matter wit you? You payin' attention or what! Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said his government will no longer hold peace talks with the Taliban. He said the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani had convinced him to focus on dialogue with Pakistan. Former Afghan President Rabbani was negotiating with the Taliban but was killed by a suicide bomber purporting to be a Taliban peace emissary. Yep, you can't reason with the devil. Serbian authorities have banned a gay pride parade planned for Sunday in the capital Belgrade saying they fear it will end in violence. A number of counter-demonstrations have also been banned. Last year, several people were injured in clashes between police and far-right groups trying to stop the parade. Organisers have criticised the ban, saying Serbian authorities have capitulated to extremists. Officials insist it is to protect public safety. Correspondents say homophobia is widespread in Serbia. Irinej, the head of the influential Serbian Orthodox Church, labelled the planned event a "pestilence" and a "parade of shame". Jesus Christ was anything but orthodox, but why let some bearded hippie ruin a perfectly good religion? A man on the run from New Zealand since a bank mistakenly deposited millions of dollars into his account has been arrested in Hong Kong. Police say Hui Gao - a New Zealander of Chinese origin - was handed over to Interpol after he was stopped at the border between Hong Kong and China. Two years ago, he asked Westpac Bank for an overdraft of NZ$100,000 ($77,000; £49,000). But it mistakenly put NZ$10m into his account. The bank discovered its error within days but, by then, more than NZ$6m had allegedly been transferred to other accounts. How many of us would be tempted to do the same thing? A baseball fan in Taiwan dropped his toddler daughter while trying to catch a foul ball. Cameras at the televised game between the Taipei Brother Elephants and Taoyuan's Lamigo Monkeys, also caught the fan's wife shouting at him afterwards. Mr Bai later said "I was going to catch the ball using one hand but ended up lifting both hands and dropped my daughter." The girl said she slightly hurt one leg but was otherwise unhurt. Check out the vid here

NC Art comments on the "uncommonly religious": Religion is a fine thing, but does tend to become too high and mighty--or tries to. So with the Puritan movement, never happy enough to practice great piety in private and public, decided that anyone not of that mind must be punished by civil authority which was there to do the will of God--as prescribed by Puritans. Even Oliver Cromwell, one of the faithful, didn't measure up always. He threw a party when his daughter married a despised Catholic Frenchman. Oh the horror! Thus, this pious bunch of people could never be truly content; they harbored the suspicion that just maybe some one, somewhere, may be enjoying himself!

Oregon Richie agrees: I have heard a lot about that lately... particularly among these LDS Mormon types. Talk about a narrow focus, and talk about prejudice, and talk about endless role-playing, and talk about turning against a stated-loved-and-close-friend when they even think for a second that they may be leaving the fold or questioning one iota of it.  It's pretty sickening, really.  I called one of these aspects of doing such things during this mortal life with the guarantee of "celestial heaven" to be, and I quote myself... a "rip roaring crock".  I did not have to point out what the crock contained, but anybody can get the message !

Yes, some people - whether religious or similarly biased in a particular ideological direction - see themselves as chosen by divine ordination to rescue sinners from the clutches of the devil, to convince the great unwashed of the error of its ways, and to herd us all into some kind of heavenly corral. They are nothing more than delusional, self-appointed minders and arbiters of other people's business.

I mentioned the "Very interesting" German guy from Laugh In to TX Greg the other day. haha yes indeed I remember as a kid watching Laugh In...
It was also "very interesting" to see Peter Sellers in that clip. I remember the story told by British interviewer Michael Parkinson of his encounter with Peter Sellers. Sellers agreed to be interviewed after he and Parkinson lunched together for a bit of a natter and familiarisation, but then reneged hours before the show was about to go to air that night. He said he couldn't be interviewed as himself because he had nothing to say. So Parkinson said, "Who would you like to be interviewed as?" And Sellers replied, "A German soldier." The interview went ahead, and Sellers was hilarious as the German soldier. Then he loosened up and went on to be himself. In part 1 of the interview, Sellers gets half way through a joke so you'll have to watch part 2 to hear the rest of it. But you won't be disappointed. And you won't be disappointed with parts 3 and 4 either. What a remarkable talent Sellers was. A genius. Ironically, he was brilliant at being everyone but himself. Spike Milligan (who worked with Sellers in The Goons) was another comic genius who suffered terrible bouts of depression.

And speaking of Eccles...

Isn't that sweet? It even has cute little cottage windows. I think NC Art was into typesetting. If you look at those last two lines of text in the ad, you'll notice that the words in the top line are spaced wider than their counterparts in the bottom line to achieve correct justification. Incidentally, don't bother writing to Art for a catalogue because he's run out of them.

And here we are again... tender foive, which means I'd better start thinking about feeding the natives. Good ol' bacon, eggs and chips. Gary


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