the WAFFLE page

August 31, 2012. Another August bites the dust. Before I fergit, I've seen plenty of spectacular sunset pics before but I think this one takes the cake in NYC.

And speaking of pics, I've often linked to stuff by Norbert on Waffle. He's a professional SCUBA diver and photographer who does a lot of magazine covers. Here's his latest... a close-up and personal encounter with a salt water croc.

Meanwhile, NC Art wrote: So my birthing day greetings are a bit late? Sue me! It’s the days ahead you need support for anyway.
    Joao takes issue with what he thought I meant, evidently. But his treatise on English history is of some value. When Richard won the Battle of Bethel, Joao is on the mark. I’ve seen the battle site; has he? And, I never claimed anyone was speaking English in the comments about the Vulgate. Vulgata was simply the language people generally understood, and the language of the educated elites was more rigid than language of the streets—or fishmongers for all that. That was coarse and unrefined; shall we say vulgar, a term still used for language spoken by sailors, printers(?) and other crude and rude types. Boys on schoolyards do a very good job of it, if you need instruction. Cody and his buds did use the vulgate out of earshot of parents and teachers. Got all that straight now? I don’t.
    Withal, I approve of the b’day card. Reminds me of a nude Prince Harry hiding his genitals, but the subject on the card was much hotter looking! Didja get a testicular tingle? Heheh. Incidentally this current mob of royals pretty well exploded the myths of royal chastity, decorum, and all that rot. But they still can put on a flash show on matters of state. 

Nope, no testicular tingle, Art. I'm far too mature and dignified for that kinda behavior these days. :o) However, I too approve of Joao's card. The word 'decorum' reminds me of Lindsay's claim to fame. He says he doesn't have any. Must be something to do with his ability to belch and fart simultaneously. He offered to demonstrate one time years ago but I declined the offer. I suspect it was his main party trick at school. Sue still finds it entertaining.

AND ANOTHER THING... writes Art after a bit more deliberation...

    On the subject of England and the language, Joao might recall that the Latin spoken there is not surprising, given the long occupation by the Roman Empire. That wonder called Hadrian’s Wall was long thought to be a defense against the ‘wild men of the north’.
    More likely it was meant to set a limit to Roman adventurism. Hadrian [117-128] ruled for 21 years and spent ten of them away from Rome evaluating the territories for soundness of the investment. He realized that Rome’s centuries of conquest for the sake of conquest was not such a hot idea. The far reaches were too poor and too backward for profit and the emperor actually drew back from some areas and established lines which could be maintained—at least for awhile longer.
      And so history was made and the empire collapsed for a variety of reasons, one was invading ‘barbarians’ from Northern Germanic tribes and Eastern encroachment. And Rome was beset by corruption and in-fighting.

I saw a bit of Paul Ryan's speech to the GOP gathering in Florida and was quite impressed with his oratory. Whether or not Romney can match it remains to be seen. Then there was an interview with a conservative from Tennessee who makes a living selling slugburgers, "Aaa've been a Republican ahhhll maaa laaafe". I couldn't believe the accent. Hehe. Anyway, he reminded me of Lindsay when he does something dumb. "I've always done it this way!"

I have a feeling Obama is biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to bring out the big guns. Never underestimate the bloke who beat the toughest lady in world politics for the Democratic nomination last time, I reckon. It's gonna be one helluva ding dong battle.

Good heavens! Early days yet but I just checked the Paralympics medal tally and Oz is #2 behind China, with Britain 3rd. The US is 7th.

I finished that last sentence and thought, "PANO!" For years I've had cameras capable of shooting panoramas but never thought about taking one. I've been at lookouts where you can see for miles, long stretches of beaches, and all kinds of places where a pano would have been perfect. SILLY MOI! Then, outta the blue, I thought now's the time. So I whizzed down to the river and tried my first pano. Click on the pic to enlarge it. It was windy and you can see where the surface of the water changed during the final shot (far left). Then I went to the other side of the bridge and shot another pano, my second. The island in the middle of the river is Coocumbac, a nature reserve. It's 5 hectares (15 acres).

Yes! That's pretty exciting cos it shows what I can do on the Odyssey, especially in the Outback where the horizon stretches forever. And mountain ranges, and beaches and even skyscapes and sunsets/rises. Matching the stitches in the viewfinder is a bit tricky but I did well even on my first attempt. Either that or got lucky.

Mmmmm. I'm getting better at making pancakes with sugar and lemon juice. I took the first one over to Averil's place. "Eat this!" "Wait a minute! Aren't you staying?" "I'll be back!" So now I'm eating mine. I'm improving the flipping business... loosening them so they don't stick, and then flipping them over. I like to make them thin so they cover the whole base of the pan, which means you can't get an egg-lifter underneath. I was a bit more generous with the castor sugar this time... a sprinkle all over, then lemon juice all over, then another sprinkle of sugar for good measure. I also increased the temperature a notch this time, to 5.

Cool weekend coming up but warmer Monday, Tuesday and even summerish Wednesday, Thursday. I've been thinking of doing a short vid on some of the small villages around here, like Tinonee and Croki. They're quaint, and probably interesting to peeps who live in cities. In fact, I don't think Croki even has a shop!

Anyway, I just put the heater on cos it's getting a bit fresh. Gonna be only 5C tonight... hot water bottle time. When I woke this morning, I thought, "Oh, no... I really don't wanna get outta bed just now cos it's so warm and cozy under the covers." Then I felt guilty and looked at the clock. 6:10. "Oh, goody! I can sleep for another hour!" So I did. Bugger the birds and all their chirp chirp bullshit.

Just thinking about those pano shots again. When I'm in Sydney in November, I'll be able to get a pano of the city skyline at the Quay, the Pacific Jewel berthed at the overseas passenger terminal, and the Harbor Bridge... all in the one shot! I'll get a few panos of Darling Harbor too cos it's such a big place. I'll take both the big Fuji and the smaller Fuji (as well as the little compact as a spare). Pano shots will be handy at the Kombi Fest at Old Bar in October as well. Pano shots won't work as stills in videos though because of the screen size. But in videos you can do pan shots. Anyway, leave it to Beaver. I know exactly what to do. I think.

And now it's time for the evening rituals. One of those potato pies I bought from the patisserie a while back has been in the freezer. Today, it's been defrosting so it'll be ready to heat in the oven for dinner... with a large dollop of tamaaaaata sauce, of course. Planet America is on telly tonight, one of my favs, so I'll be brought up to speed about the Obama/Romney tussle. Gary

August 30, 2012. Pay day, bills day, whoosh day. Back to square one in milliseconds hehe. How-bloody-ever, I received a donation for the Odyssey, so that's nice.

TX Greg wanted to know if I noticed the mug on the left in the pic he sent yesterday. Yes I did. I'm a lefty. I live with two righties and they're forever putting things the wrong way around. I'm so used to lifting the kettle with my right hand now, I don't worry about it. But I still have to turn the sugar bowl around.

I hadn't heard from BR Joao for a long time so I was nice to receive an email from him this morning: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! It was a hard year for you but you won. Great. Now back to the Odyssey.

The Rio's Solar City Tower is not a real project. It was created by a Swiss company for an architectural contest in Equador. I didn't understand it very well, it seems to me like another visionary moto perpetuo. In Brazil power comes chiefly from hydroelectrical plants. We have a lot of rivers, you know...

I send you a DVD as a birthday gift, I hope it arrives before your next bithday. And you know how much amazing I think your idea of Aussie Odyssey is (crazy but amazing). Greetings for you and all your friend readers.

Yep, the DVD arrived yesterday but Lindsay noticed it early this morning and left it at my door. It's the story of George Harrison with songs, old footage and interviews with lots of his friends as well as members of the Beatles, produced by Martin Scorsese. The package even had a red bow tied to it! Thanks, Joao. I can't wait to watch it. And thanks for the pic!

Joao also writes: What NC Art wrote about common language is very interesting but I have some comments about it. The Vulgate is not the Bible in common language, if you mean English as that language. The Vulgate, or originally Vulgata, is the translation of the Bible from the Greek into Latin, made by St. Jerome, in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. The New Testament was originally written in Greek; the Old Testament was translated from the Septuaginta (seventy, in Latin), a Greek translation of the Hebraic text made, second the tradition, by seventy two  rabbis of Alexandria, between the 3rd and the 1st centuries BC. Why Latin? It was then the “common” language of all Europe, in the meaning of a language used in all countries.

The first “official” Bible in English was the King James Bible, published in 1611. English royalty didn’t speak Latin or High English, they spoke French. We used to consider Alfred, the Great, as the first English king, but England didn’t exist then. He was the king of Wessex, one of many small Saxon kingdoms. He dreamed to conquer more countries, like Mercia or East Anglia, but died before he could. Just after the Normand conquest, in 1066, England became a great country. Sorry, Elizabeth, but England is still a Normand colony. Richard the Lionheart, for instance, didn’t speak English at all, he only speaks French and hated England (don’t tell Hollywood, please). When he was not devastating English Treasure in a Crusade, he used to live in his possessions of Aquitaine, near to his all life true love, the young Philip II, King of France.

I survived the dental appointment this morning with some discomfort. No needles but not much fun. Nancy cleaned the teeth again and also gave me a filling. Actually, it was a refill. The original dropped out years ago. I'm due for another next week. Bleh. Meanwhile, she says I need to "bulk up". Tis true, tis true... I'm fading away to nothing.

And the pancake? Delicious! I'll have another for lunch. One was all I could handle last night, so I had a mug of soup as well. Ready made pancakes are not the same. Better to make each one fresh (fried in butter, of course). I used castor sugar (very fine) to sprinkle over, and fresh lemon. Mmmmm!

The two XD 2GB memory cards arrived for the big Fuji so that gives me 2 x 29min of record time + 1 x 14min with the old 1GB = about 72min, which is plenty. Older cameras can't be upgraded to higher MP or memory which is a bit of a bummer but they're still okay... at least for another few years before they become museum pieces like my 2002 Kodak.

I watched QI last night with Stephen Fry and he was talking about mining gold in Japan, which is a country short on natural resources. So they mine gold in old cell phones. Apparently, cell phones - if there's enough of them - are rich in valuable materials. In England they're talking about recovering platinum from road surfaces... something to do with the dust created by car exhausts. So how do they recover platinum from fine dust? Bacteria... namely E. Coli. The theme of last night's show was "green" as in eco friendly. So one of the guests - normally in pairs with Fry in the middle - complained that one side of the set was wasting electricity, so the two guests on Fry's right grabbed their chairs and moved over to the other side hehe. It was a bit crowded but the show went on regardless. Meanwhile, it's good to see recycling being promoted by the media. The earth's recources are finite, as we're rapidly discovering with oil.

Mining is a constant issue in Oz. We have massive reserves of coal, gas, minerals and other materials but the Greens are forever protesting against exploiting our natural resources. The Aborigines make a fuss too if they decide the location has spiritual and/or cultural significance. So it's always difficult to strike a balance, which is what we need to do. It can't be all one way or all the other. Most of us don't want an Amish lifestyle.

On the other hand, it's encouraging that science is researching greener ways of keeping our lifestyles intact... generating electricity without fossil fuels, using recyclable materials in buildings, cars and other manufactured goods, developing machines that use less energy to deliver the same or better results, etc. Incandescent light globes disappeared from the Oz market a year or two ago. Now we all use those twistie ones or fluros. Or even LEDs.

Have you heard about the new NBC sitcom The New Normal?

I don't think sitcoms portray normal people. If they did, they'd fail to rate. However, I think the day will come when it'll be normal to have a same-sex married couple living next door. And not only in gay enclaves. Kids at school with same-sex parents won't be treated any differently. People who resist change forget that evolution is with us whether we like it or not. It really is the nature of the beast. And there's no going back. I often wonder about the validity of expressions such as "the wisdom of the ancients". It's true that many ancients were wise, but I don't think antiquity has a monopoly on wisdom. Take NC Art, for example. If he didn't have such a bony butt, I'm sure he'd quite happily sit on a mountain top, dressed in robes, and spend his time dispensing profundities.

Just checked the Beeb: The Australian army suffers one of its worst days in Afghanistan, with five of its soldiers killed in two separate incidents. Oh dear, that's a lot for us. It'll be all over the news tonight with the PM and Minister for Defense making the usual speeches. Three soldiers were killed by a man in Afghan army uniform in Uruzgan province on Wednesday, the latest in a series of so-called "green-on-blue" attacks. In a separate incident, two others were killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand province on Thursday.

In other news: Paralympics chief Lord Coe says people should prepare to be "inspired, dazzled and moved", as the Queen opens the Games at a spectacular ceremony in London. I watched an interview last night with a Safrican runner who wears strange looking prosthetics below this knees, but he can run like the wind. He's also exceptionally good looking.

And here's a clip of a koala trapped by a tidal river hitching a ride on a canoe.

So that's about it, Ls and Gs. The day is slowly coming to a close and the telly beckons. Gary

August 29, 2012. The phone rang at 7 this morning while I was still in bed. It was my sis in law phoning to wish me happy birthday. How could anyone wish a bloke happy birthday by dragging him out of bed on a winter's morning? So I ignored it. It rang again at 7:30 by which time I was in front of the comp having my morning cuppa. Still too early for all that rah rah business so I ignored it again. At 8, the mobile/cell rang. "You have missed one call." My sis in law is one of those people who expects others to spring into action after the first ring. If nothing happens, she hangs up. Hehe.

TX Greg was far more sensible. No phone, no noise, no disruption, no rah rah, just a wonderful thought... and one I very much appreciate:

Several times you've painted a picture of what it would be like on the Odyssey to wake up, go outside the camper and have your morning cuppa, Happy Birthday......

BTW> The photo is the Rainbow Valley, Northern Territory :)

Isn't that wonderful? Thanks a stack for a most appropriate and thoughtful gift, Greg. It was a most pleasant way to greet the day. I can imagine being in that picture thinking to myself, as I sip my tea, "Well, whaddaya know! My dream has actually come true."

And then Oregon Richie knocked me for six with his comment: So it's about time, eh?  Another scratch on the calendar or however you view it but of course... all good thoughts, better wishes, and the best hopes for a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GARY and for rolling good times in the times ahead !! It counts.  YOU count. The great sage and my friend in OZ has been one of the most incredible and meaningful relationships and friendships of my life.  I celebrate that with appreciation and celebrate the life of Gary of OZ big big big-bloody big-time, mate !

Nothing in there about my being witty, charming and good looking, Richie, but I suppose ya can't have everything. Thanks, mate. It's quite a speech... and one, I must admit, that leaves me quite speechless.

Lindsay was in the shower when the phone rang at 7. He wanted to know what it was all about so I told him. Then he asked how old I was. "68?!?!?! You better start that trip pretty soon, Gazza!" Thanks, Lindsay. I said 68, not 108.

Ohio Jace sent an e-card that didn't arrive, so he wrote to wish me: BTW:::            HAPPY 68th BIRTHDAY!!!!!
Since you did not get the ecard here is the backside of Table Mountain. The city is in the valley between the mountain and the gold. Cody's home would be to the left and the CBD to the right. The Atlantic Ocean is beyond the mountain.

Thanks for the cool pic, Jace, and for bringing me up to speed with the Ohio Gang. Your great nephew not wearing groin support during motocross races reminds me of an incident when I was in my early teens. I had a Speedwell Flash bicycle with 3-speed chain gears. At the base of a hill, I stood on the pedals to get more push when the chain slipped and I came crashing down on the crossbar. Oh, man... the pain! It was excruciating! That's something I'll never forget.

It's actually mid afternoon now and the day has flown. Dunno why... I haven't done much. However, I did get an email from Lotto to say NO WINNING GAMES. Thanks very much. Next! And I managed to snaffle a few specials at the supermarket. After all that talk about Morroccan flat bread and stuff the other day I bought some Buttermilk Pancake Mix... one of those you add water to and shake in the bottle. I read the label and saw that once water is added, and the buttermilk is reconstituted, it only lasts 3 days in the fridge. I was hoping longer. It means I gotta try to get through 4 pancakes a day! Oh well... I also bought some mandarins cos they're easy to peel and eat (for me). And eggs! Last time I tried scrambled eggs I had trouble eating them but I have a feeling I might do better this time. 

Just picked a lemon. I figure a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon might encourage me to eat more pancakes.

So what's a bloke supposed to do on his birthday? You've all made me feel guilty now. I have nothing planned, nothing at all. It's just another day. I remember my 40th. It was a party at a restaurant with a stack of people there, some I didn't even know. Where are they now? Who knows. On my 50th, a bunch of people heard that I'd kicked a goal in Canberra with a TV show, so they came out of the woodwork. Where are they now? Who knows. Mind you, they probably say the same about me hehe. IF they remember.

If my sis in law phones back tonight she'll no doubt ask, "What did you do?" And when I say nothing, she'll say, "Nothing? It's your birthday!" I don't have a problem with people who make a big deal of birthdays and other occasions. Just don't expect me to. Some of my most treasured memories of Cody's life happened on his birthdays... Paul's visit from England, Mark's visit from Joburg. Those times could not have been more special. But there were also tons of special moments that had nothing to do with birthdays. I think that's why I appreciate TX Greg's pic so much... it could be any day of the year; the cuppa, the laptop, the view. It doesn't need to be a particular day.

Speaking of Cody, I remember when the family was holidaying up the "Green Route" with Mark and Wingnut in tow, and they stayed in a cabin at a holiday park. During a quiet moment between Cody and his mom, she told him that the cabin was where he had been conceived. Now THAT was a special moment for me (and obviously for his mother). I'd never thought of conception as being a relevant date before. Mine must've been early December 1943, which made my dad 40 and my mom 35... and me 0. And if you add it all together it makes me 68 and 3/4.

Anyway, birthdays schmirthdays... with some exceptions.

Just had a thought. Is there any law against having pancakes for dinner? Since you blokes have made me feel guilty about not doing anything special for my birthday, maybe I should have pancakes for dinner. No candles... bugger the candles. Just the pancakes. One with lemon and sugar for mains, and one with jam and cream for dessert. Yeah. Why not?

Okay, that's settled. Pancakes it is.

And tomorrow? Lindsay told me that while I was up the road, the butcher shop rang to remind me of my 9am appointment tomorrow. That's his joke for the day, dear Breth. He meant the dentist. Ha ha. Sheesh. So that's where I'll be in the morning, lying back and being drilled for fillings. I can't wait. Seems 2012 has been the year of the carvers... lots of people with knives and scalpels and drills and needles and lasers and whatever, all wanting to carve up the old G. What a year it's been. Gary

August 28, 2012. NC Art wrote: English may as well come from Turkey as well as anywhere. It is a weird conglomerate of tongues from all over hell. Latin, German, French, Nordlander, etc. Middle Eastern speech flavored by Asian a la Genghis Kahn and his soldiers. So it’s a losing proposition to distinguish Aussie, American, Canadian or English English. Each have their own peculiar spellings, idioms, and ungodly names for things. Natural, I think; England was the most frequently conquered spit of land anywhere, I think. Ruled by French kings, Germans, Spanish and god knows whatall. One royal house married daughters off to foreigners to keep peace. Didn’t work too well.
    So, while you write in American, some of the references to objects or emotions are purely puzzling to some of us. Yet, I get the idea, and that adds a bit of spice to mundane descriptives!

Yes, I like to have two bob each way (a bet on both a win and a place in racing). I continue to use Aussie idioms and expressions even though I prefer American spelling. It adds a bit of flavor to my style and keeps it Aussiefied. Aussies reckon and Merry Cans figure. I do both. Aussies have a shower and Merry Cans take a shower. Hehe. What the hell. We buy take away whereas Merry Cans buy food to go. We have arses and they have asses. Bonnets and hoods. Tyres and tires. Mud guards and fenders. Mince steak and ground steak. 'Ow ya goin' and 'ow ya doin'? Gunna and gonna. Mum and mom. The end is listless. I throw in a few of my own as well, like Harry Stottle and Dozen Madder.

While on air at my first job in radio I said the temperature "downtown" was whatever degrees. A minute later, the manager burst into the studio and told me NEVER to use that expression again. It was an Americanism and we don't use Americanisms at this radio station. Okay... just lots of Doris Day, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, et al, et al.

After fiddling around in my camper yesterday, I was delighted to spot this video on Youtube about a 16 y/o kid building his own "mortgage free" trailer house. It's really great... check it out.

Back to NC Art for a tick, he sent this link to a vid of an Aussie office girl doing her thing with the photo copier.

Yes, building things "and stuff". On Gardening Australia the other night, a woman demonstrated how to make a framed mini garden. She bought an old picture frame from an op shop, plus a few bits of scrap timber "and stuff". She made a shallow box by putting 3 sides to the frame (about 3-4" deep) and a backing board. Then she stuffed a rolled-up newspaper lengthwise into the end without a side. She laid the box on its backing, frame side up, and filled it with potting mix. Then she planted a number of small succulents (varieties of different colored cacti) into the potting mix, keeping the plants tightly packed so that no soil was visible once the planting was complete. Three months later, when the roots of the plants had taken hold in the soil, she raised the frame to hanging position and removed the rolled up newspaper (used to stop loose potting mix from spilling out during planting) and voila - a framed mini garden that looked fabulous. The open top (where the newspaper was) could now be used for watering. Clever, oui?

Boxes are cool. The interior of the camper is a series of boxes... boxes to sit on, boxes to put things in. Lift the divan cushions to reveal storage boxes underneath. Open the cupboard doors to reveal boxes to store stuff in. At one end there's a big box to sleep in. There's a box to house the fridge, another to house the water tank (and double as a step up to the sleeping area), another to house the gas bottle, and another to house the stove/grill. At one end of the kitchen bench, hinged to the wall, there's a fold-away shelf to add extra shelf space while stationary. It's amazing how much space there is in such a small space. But it doesn't feel small. Compact, yes, but not claustrophobic. There's enough open space and window space to create a feeling of spaciousness. As the kid building his trailer house says, everything is within easy reach. And because it's small, so are the chores. Smart kid.

Been checking out digital camcorders on eBay just to see what's available. The cheaper Chinese makes don't have a viewfinder, only an LCD screen which isn't easy to see in strong daylight. I also prefer a viewfinder to frame shots more accurately. Used Canons, JVCs and Sonys are better quality but the older ones use DVD disks to record onto, and some even use tape. Sheesh. So it looks like I'll have to wait a while before I splurge on a camcorder. My old digital SLRs will have to do the job in the meantime.

On the other hand, I could be worth a few bob tonight. The $13m Lotto is drawn this evening, the eve of my 68th birthday. I'm in a syndicate with 9 other peeps so that'll improve my chances of winning something. I believe there's only about another 4 billion ticket holders so it's practically a certainty.

Nice springish day BUT the heater's on. Gets a bit chilly during the night and in the mornings. 2" weather. Cody used to talk about 2" temps in the surf during winter. Hehe. Or maybe it was 1". Can't remember.

So how old is old? Turning 40 was no biggie. Turning 50 was a bit of an event. One teenage girl I knew called me a fossil. But at 50+ I thought 40 was quite young. Now, as a sexagenarian, I think 50 is quite young. I can only assume that NC Art thinks 70 is quite young. And 80? Well, it's getting on a bit. Hehe. Mind you, I've seen pretty sprightly 90 y/o's and even centenarians who are the full quid. It's all in the genes ya know. In other words, dear Breth, if ya ain't got the genes, forget about reaching the ton.

So who was the nitwit who said you're only as young as you feel? I reckon you're as young as you THINK. I know peeps who started to think old well before their latter years. They were always old. It's all very well to be mature and sensible but that shouldn't mean being DULL. Keep the windows of the mind open and the curtains fluttering, I say. Remember the good old days, yes, but don't forget that today is just a good day that hasn't gotten old yet. Hehe. Give it another 30 years and it'll join the ranks of the good olds.

So what's for dinner? I dunno. Fish fingers? I thought about making a white sauce with parsley or whatever but... too hard, especially for one. Then I thought about putting the fingers in foil and adding a bit of this and that but... they're crumbed, and you don't steam crumbs. Hehe. So it looks like a boring old oven fry. Soooo, that's about it, Ls and Gs. It's a wrap. Gary

August 27, 2012. Steve W commented: Gary, wtf "flavor" is back!!!!!

I didn't understand what Steve was on about at first. It took a while to realize he was less than  impressed with my use of American spelling. I've been using American spelling for years, ever since writing Daniel's Diary, which was set in Tampa, Florida. In any case, Australian English is not Australian at all. It's English English, so it's not like I'm being unpatriotic. Besides, American English is probably closer to being a universal language than any other. From what I've read, American English is closer to what English English used to be before the Poms decided to tart up their lingo to make it look as classy and sophisticated as French. That's when they started adding 'u' to words like flavor and savior.

By the way, there was an article on the Beeb yesterday about English having its origins in - of all places - Turkey!

Some Aussies are critical of American culture and the influence it has on Oz, but I don't hear anyone being critical of the influence Italian, Greek, Asian and various other cultures have had on Oz. Actually, I do. Old Ken, a neighbor, reckons we shouldn't be eating "foreign" food, that we're Australians who should be eating Australian food. Remind me never to eat at his place.

Anyway, after writing about dreams yesterday, I began to think about that expression "body of work"... the sum total of a person's contribution over a lifetime. Most people do a day's work for a day's pay. At the end of their working life, they look back and wonder where the hell it all went and what the hell it was all about. Rather than use each day to contribute to the next, and the next, so that the sum total of their days result in a cohesive "body of work", they've ended up with a string of vague memories. There was no dream, no purpose, no plan, nothing to glue the days together to prevent them floating away like scattered flotsam. 

For me, that's where Aussie Odyssey comes in. I keep a record of each day (or couple of days) so that the journal, pics and vids build into a collection that ultimately becomes a cohesive "body of work". Yeah? That'll make up for all the disjointed bits and pieces I've left behind so far hehe.

My Red Bubble mate Mieke has been at it again, adding to her "body" of photographic work. She has a natural talent for spotting situations she can turn into something really interesting, such as this image she called Exit. And here's a great example of what Mieke can do with a bunch of trees. What brilliant composition.

Meanwhile, Romney is accusing Obama of "dividing America" by running a campaign built on "anger and divisiveness". Hello? Who's the pot calling the kettle black? On the other hand, Obama, according to a Huffington Post report, says that Romney has locked himself into "extreme positions" and deals in factually dishonest arguments that could soon haunt him in face-to-face debates.

And what about this Breivik character in Norway, and his far-right idealism? He remains unrepentent despite Norway rejecting his crusade to rid the country of Islamic influence and racial integration, and despite being condemned by his countrymen as a low-life mass-murderer. Far-right or far-left, to me, is taking things too far. Either way, it's extremism. Off the wall loonybin stuff.

I spent a bit of time this arvo in the camper just buggerizing around like a kid in his cubby house. I even used the hand broom and dust pan to clean up the joint a little. Hehe. How domestic. But I'm very comfortable with the idea of feeling "at home" when camped somewhere, especially with all my bits and pieces stowed away in the storage bins or cupboards. A bloke's gotta have his "things". I also re-read the fridge instruction manual just to make sure I understood how the thing works. No matches, by the way. Ignition is piezo. Not so with the stove top though... I'll need a lighter for that.

I suppose my first home cooked meal on the road will be quite an event. Incidentally, I love the look of a blue gas flame. It's homely. I grew up with gas... gas cooker in the kitchen and gas water heater in the bathroom (both Carmichael brand). Boxes of matches were a permanent item on mom's grocery list. I have two stainless steel vacuum flasks. Experienced campers advise keeping excess boiling water hot in vacuum flasks to save gas. Yep, instant cuppa anytime you want it.

Just checked out camp ovens (Dutch ovens) and saw a recipe for Moroccan flat bread, which apparently was so delicious it disappeared before the chef could take photos. It's very simple... 250g self raising flour, 250g plain natural yoghurt, generous pinch of baking powder, pinch salt. Combine all ingredients, separate into 6 portions, flatten to between 1 - 2 cm thick. Fry 2 minutes each side in a little olive oil in Dutch oven or heavy frying pan. For me, I'd fry one at a time for fresh bread and store the rest until needed. Daily fresh bread out in the bush. Heaven!

And now ladies and genitals, it's time to take care of my stomach's rumblings. It's carrying on a treat at the mo. Rumble, rumble, rumble. Gimme, gimme, gimme. It's also time for a bit of telly and my regular programs... being Mondee again. Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Gary

August 26, 2012. Well, that sprinkle of powdered gravy (pepper sauce, actually) on the meatballs to thicken the liquid last night worked an absolute treat. It was so damn tasty, I didn't care about my sensitive gums. In fact, it was so delicious, I reckon it's probably the best thing I've ever made. But don't ask me why. Was it the mix of pork and veal rather than beef? Was it the parmesan cheese in the mix? Was it the chopped tomatoes with basil and garlic? Was it all of the above? I'll never be absolutely certain, but I'm glad I wrote down the recipe. Thats a keepers. I do suspect the parmesan had a lot to do with the result. I've seen quite a number of cooking show hosts use parmesan in various dishes to sharpen the flavor. Usually they shave it from a block. I used shavings from a packet. Shaved parmesan is much better than powdered. Okay, so it smells like puke but it tastes wonderful.

On Landline last night there was a story about a couple of people who invested their retirement superannuation into a business growing, packaging and selling "bush tucker"... berries, fruits and vegies native to Oz. It tends to be tart and even bitter but that suits one well known Aussie restaurateur (born in Malaysia) who orders heaps of the stuff every week. Chinese cooking uses contrasting flavors in many dishes, and has for thousands of years... sweet and sour, for example. Anyway, "bush tucker" has become big business with many restaurants offering dishes based on indigenous ingredients. And the two people who started the business of growing and supplying it a decade or so ago are flat out keeping up with demand. They also bottle jams, chutneys and sauces. 

There was another a story of a man and a woman who live on a chain of small islands off the coast of Western Oz. He's on one and she's on another, living in separate houses and operating separate businesses growing pearls. But they're married and have a child. Hehe. It works okay. She visits his island for dinner and he visits hers for the same reason. Before they married and had a child, they ran their businesses independently anyway and have decided to continue that way. The pearls are huge by comparison to normal. At first, seeding the shells resulted in only a small percentage being harvested. But they discovered a way to increase the success rate and now almost all the seeded shells result in perfect pearls. They say it has to do with the type of oyster and also the pristine waters around the area. How the other half lives, yeah?

The man who famously said "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," has passed into history. Neil Armstrong died yesterday of complications following heart surgery. Armstrong uttered those words back in 1969, shortly before I landed my first job in radio. My parents and I sat around our 21" black and white HMV TV in the living room and watched Apollo 11 touch down on the lunar surface. My dad couldn't handle it and said it was a fake. The way I feel about it is that I'm privileged to have witnessed such a momentous event in my lifetime. A month later, my boss said to me, "There's no need to be nervous, Gary. There's only 30,000 people out there listening to you."

So who's Clive Palmer? He's an Aussie billionaire on a mission. He wants to build Titanic II, a faithful replica of the original. "Most people of my age and means either want to retire or build a boat. I want to build a boat." Check out his story.

One commentator on telly the other week said about Clive Palmer, "If Clive Palmer didn't exist, we'd have to invent him." Larger than life, indeed. Palmer is a man who dreams big and then sets out to turn his dreams into reality. He wasn't always a billionaire. When I think back over my life, I can see now that I didn't dream enough. My first dream was to become a radio announcer. So I became one. Then there were no more dreams until I went bust and began to dream about finding a hero; a person I could admire and write about; a person who could show me "the way". So I found Cody. And here I am with my third and final dream, Aussie Odyssey. What I'm saying is that my life is the direct result of the dreams I've had. No more, no less. I've never dreamed of being hugely successful or famous. I've never dreamed of being rich and powerful. Go figure. So it seems the secret to getting what you want in life, dear Breth, is linked to your dreams. The less you want, the less you dream. The more you want, the more you dream. And the bigger you dream.

I think wishing and dreaming can be two different things. Wishing to be successful or rich or famous or whatever is too fuzzy. Wishing lacks definition. Dreams, on the other hand, have a specific goal or purpose. For Barack Obama it was becoming President of the United States. When asked as a child what he wanted to be in life he said, quite confidently, "President." My answer to the same question as a kid would have been, "Buggered if I know."

Yesterday, I read a little about Hilter's early life: Embittered at his rejection by the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts, he was to spend "five years of misery and woe" in Vienna as he later recalled, adopting a view of life which changed very little in the ensuing years, shaped as it was by a pathological hatred of Jews and Marxists, liberalism and the cosmopolitan Habsburg monarchy. Existing from hand to mouth on occasional odd jobs and the hawking of sketches in low taverns, the young Hitler compensated for the frustrations of a lonely bachelor's life in miserable male hostels by political harangues in cheap cafes to anyone who would listen and indulging in grandiose dreams of a Greater Germany.

Grandiose dreams, yes? The other motivation for his rise to power was intense hatred, a powerful emotion. But he always had a very clear vision of where he was headed. As opportunities arose to achieve his ultimate goal, he recognized them and followed them.

Clive Palmer has the same clear vision of Titanic II. He has the original plans, plans for the new ship with certain modifications, and a dream which has now become an obsession to see the project through. Walt Disney borrowed $500 from an uncle, created Mickey Mouse and built Disney Land. So it's all about dreams, ladies and genitals. Or the lack thereof.

Here we are again at after 5-ish and I'm looking forward to another feast of meatballs and my magic sauce. What the hell do I call that thing? Kelly's Meatballs? Savory Meatballs in tomato gravy? Pork and Veal Yummies? Buggered if I know. But I tellya what, they've revived my interest in eating. Since the operation and radiation therapy, eating has been a real chore, and I've lost serious weight as a consequence. But now flavor IS BACK! Seeyas. Gary

August 25, 2012. NC Art doesn't necessarily agree with treating stars as ordinary people: That advice on treating stars as ordinary works with some, but most won’t go along with such democracy. The ones who seem human are there, but not in great numbers. My son has worked in film business for many years and met all kinds. Two standouts are Whoopee Goldberg and Tom Hanks. Both take the job seriously, do the job they get paid for, and manage to be real decent humans while at it. Some actors believe they are the only ones who matter and treat like dirt all the support crews who actually make things happen. Carpenters, painters, electricians, cameramen, set dressers and grips make them look good but seldom a word of thanks but plenty of crap if the star screws up a scene all by herself. Ah well.

Years ago, I sacked the lead guitarist of the band I managed during practice because he got his knickers in a knot about something or other, and behaved like a prima donna. The rest of the band was horrified at losing one of the best guitarists in Sydney but remained silent as the guitarist left the hall. Then the lead singer ran after him. 10 minutes later, both returned. The guitarist apologized for his behavior, which was a relief, and once more we were all happy little Vegemites working together as a team. It was a good lesson for the members because there was never any more trouble after that.

When I ran my own advertising production biz, I regularly used the cream of Sydney's voice over talent and never had a problem with any of them. Seems to me the more secure a person is, the less likely they are to be temperamental and/or defensive.

At the time, there was a tape doing the rounds of Marlon Brando chucking a wobbly during a recording session for an advertisement. Admitedly, the script was apalling but Brando was overly abusive, I thought. And I suspect the reason was due to his failing popularity. Big stars don't need to do ads for soups. If it were my session, he would have been out the door and replaced. I don't have a problem with constructive criticism or helpful suggestions, but vindictive, sarcastic remarks are unprofessional... and that goes for both sides of the microphone.

However, I wouldn't have hired Brando or any other star in the first place. Most agencies believe that stars give ad campaigns credibility. Maybe they do, but I have confidence in my own ability to make the script the star. For one thing, it's a lot cheaper. During my heyday, I turned "Lefty and Shirl" into stars by writing great scripts and hiring two talented voice over artists who specialized in character voices. Lefty and Shirl ran for years in Sydney. Silly me... if only I'd been aware of the true value of that campaign (and others) I could have made a fortune.

Lefty and Shirl were a pair of mentally-challenged business entrepreneurs with comic voices whose main aim was to outwit their competition, Valiant Glass. One of the ads (and there were 24 of them) went something like this:

Lefty: This answering machine is a great idea, Shirl.
Shirl: Yeah, Lefty... no more interruptions hehe.
SFX: Phone rings.
Machine: You have reached Lefty and Shirl's emergency glass repair service, available 24 hours a day except during morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, nights, weekends and holidays. Please call back later.
SFX: Beep.
Customer: You call yourselves an emergency glass repair service and you're closed?!? I'll phone Valiant! (Bangs phone down).
Shirl: He hung up!
Lefty: He said he's phoning Valiant!
Shirl: The nerve!
Lefty: No worries, Shirl. I've got an idea. I'll re-record the message and after I say please call back later, I'll add '...and don't call Valiant'.
Shirl: Oh, Lefty... that's pure genius!
Lefty: Yeah, Shirl. Hehe. That'll teach Valiant emergency glass repair service to mess with the likes of Lefty and Shirl!

Mind you, there's no shortage of dickhead producers. I did a voice over for an ad that ended with a web site address back in the days when web addresses were uncommon. I suggested to the producer that we drop the http, colon, forward slash, forward slash and settle for www dot etc. But no... he insisted that people were too stupid to understand the shortened version of the web address and told me to read the whole damn thing. How absurd.

Now, of course, I don't have to worry about egos and personalities... apart from my own. 

Just back from a little sojourn up the road, and what a lovely day it is... poifect! By the way, Florida Dave wrote: And when are you allowed to have 82-degree temps in the wintertime?  Central Florida has seen this happen a few times in recent years, but it's not a common occurence.  We also get temps in the low 30's some winter nights, perhaps three or four times a year, maybe once in the upper 20's.  How to deal with it?  Stay inside with the heat on, yeah?

Dave also mentioned the veteran car at the Holden Show: I think you made a slight error in the description of the 1929 automobile at the Manning
Valley Holden show.  Looking carefully at the picture showing the rear of the car there is a small plate opposite the license plate with the word "Marquette" on it.  Isn't this the name of the manufacturer?  By whatever name it is an interesting historical auto.  I own a couple of them myself!?

I think you're right, Dave. I took a closer look and realized the letter I thought was C was worn. It's actually U, and the letter before it is Q not O. So the name is not Marocette, it's Marquette. That explains the owner's pronunication of "Markette" which I couldn't quite make out at the time. Another thing that confused me was the GM badge at the bottom of the radiator, and why the car was being displayed at an All GM Day. It was a Buick, that's why.

But don't ask me to change the video. That would mean copying the original to .wmv again and uploading it to Youtube again. Too bloody hard. However, I will place a comment on Youtube.

Dave also refers to himself as a curmudgeon. So that makes 3 of us. Actually, a Curmudgeon Blog would be interesting, yes? A bunch of grumpy old farts venting their spleens on the world and all its foibles. Today, Justin posted an article about gays being obsessed with their physical appearance despite (according to a survey) having a low opinion of their bodies. The article mentioned the inordinate amount of time gays spend at the gym. So I wrote a comment and bitched about the gyms I've been to not allowing me to just sit around and watch.

The reason I find Dylan Moran so funny is that he's always bitching about something, and acting drunk. He's a bit too young to be a fully fledged curmudgeon yet but he's certainly got the potential. When I heard him say that male genitalia looked like something hanging from a shark's mouth I thought it was one of the funniest things I'd ever heard.

I learned yesterday of the death at 95 of Phyllis Diller. She had the most absurd laugh, and sent herself up mercilessly. She understood that making fun of her age, looks and cooking, and her husband "Fang", could do no harm and attract no criticism. I sooooo identify with her line, "Housework won't kill you but why take a chance?" Hehe. She also said she was 18 years behind in her ironing. And what about this one: "I want my children to have all the things I could never afford. And then I want to move in with them." And... "Burt Reynolds once asked me out. I was in his room." Yes, she was a very funny lady. According to Joan Rivers, another funny lady, Diller paved the way for female comedians in a previously male dominated arena.

Ya know, if the human condition wasn't so inherently ridiculous, there'd be no such thing as comedians. You can't poke fun at something that's not funny. Even Adolf Schickelgruber loved to watch Charlie Chaplin doing Hitler impersonations.

My wonderful old mate, SF Jim, who died in 2006, once told me that God had a sense of humor. I think he must have.

Once again, ladies and genitals, the sun is doing its slowly-sinks-in the-west trick, which reminds me of Art's comment earlier: Your meatballs sound yummy. I first thought you were going for a meatloaf because the ingredients would make a big tasty treat. When cooled, slice in servings, wrap or put in freezer bags for storage until needed.

Yep, meatloaf, meatballs (rissoles), burgers... all the same... except usually with a meatloaf I add sausage mince to the ground beef to act as a binder and make it more 'sliceable'. I also spray the top with cooking oil to encourage a crusty topping while baking. Ditto with roast potatoes and pumpkin... give 'em a spray of oil and a sprinkle of mixed herbs before baking. The only prob with the meatballs last night was the sauce, which thinned out too much and became a bit watery. So tonight I'll open the parcel and add a sprinkle of instant gravy. That should do the trick.

So lemme check the TV guide... One Plus One - 3 x 10-minute interviews with prominent peeps, Landline - stories about life on the land, Gardening Australia - gardening, cooking, greening the urban environment, the therapeutic aspect of planting stuff, etc. Great show. And ABC National News at 7. There ya go. I'll be a veritable fountain of knowledge after watching all that stuff. 

And now let me leave you with another Phyllis Diller quote: "The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was when I accidentally put gin in the steam iron." Gary

August 24, 2012. It's on mornings like this you're reminded that Earth is not a bad planet to inhabit. Bright blue sky, no wind, warm and all that cool stuff.

TX Greg wrote to say his mail bounced the other day... "service unavailable". Yep, my ISP was down for a while, but not long. Greg also said: Wrote yesterday because you lost me on that one "I ran outta footballers at the Grand Hotel". 

I see. Well, I didn't wanna go into too much detail so let's just say that while living at the hotel I met quite a few footballers who were much friendlier than I'd anticipated... especially in a country town. My boss at the radio station knew EXACTLY what I meant.

That's one awesome pic Ohio Jace sent. Wonder if there is a vid like that on XTube. Most motocross riders stand up while racing. Talk about bouncing willies, hahahahaha

And speaking of bouncing willies, Greg sent this link to "Dirty Harry" and the "royal weiner". Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about. However, I can imagine that grandma has taken a rather dim view of the publicity, hehe. Greg says there's an old saying, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". But not this time.

And on the subject of "willie clipping", NC Art has this to say: Medical advisors have been weighing for decades about the dubious value of circumcision. No significant health problems attend leaving the willie as it first appears. And no significant advantages attend the clipped crew; the notion that an exposed glans penis can promote prolonged sexual performance because it becomes less sensitive is still a matter for debate. But what the hell. They all work pretty well whatever the appearance. I belong to the intact club as did all my brothers and most of my friends during youthful years. Actually, the one bud missing his foreskin got some good natured teasing. 
    One advantage for the Motocross nudes may lie in cooler testicles. The medical men opine that overheated gonads depresses sperm production and can lead to lower libido—aka horniness. Nothing for you and me to worry about now, y’know.

I must have asked my mother why my younger bro was cut and I wasn't. Apparently he was born with a foreskin long enough to wrap several times around a firehose wheel. Anyway, all I can remember my mother saying was something lamo about foreskins dating back to the days when naked people ran through tall grass. Right. Thanks, mom. That clears that up.

All this genitalia and "agog" business that happens in British and American media makes me think of Aussie political cartoonist and satirist Larry Pickering. For 30 years he's been lampooning our political leaders and wannabes. Here's how he depicted our PM Julia Gillard recently. Can you imagine the stir that would create if it were about an American or British polly and published over there? During a press conference yesterday, Gillard referred to Pickering as one of the "mysogynist nut jobs on the internet".  Here's another cartoon about Gillard "getting into bed" with independents to prop up her minority government. And another. During the '80s, Pickering made a fortune publishing calendars depicting prominent Australian politicians naked with varying sized willies appropriate to their political status (according to him). That was back in the days when Bob Hawke gave up the booze to focus on his career. So it appears to me that the kinda stuff that might cause outrage in the US and UK fails to raise an eyebrow over here. Not that we don't have a religious right, we do, but it's hardly a blip on the radar.

Back from some biz up the road. I was still holding my "green" bag when the checkout chick asked if I wanted to use my own bag rather than a plastic one. "Sorry," I said as I handed her mine, "I was day dreaming. I've lost the plot." "Well, don't find it... you'll be disappointed." Hmmm, she might have a point there.

Another bit of advice I heard today was from a famous photographer of rock bands: "Treat stars like ordinary people, and ordinary people like stars, and you'll be okay." I remember being on a shoot with Kate Ceberano, a famous Australian singer. I'd never met her before and was a tad nervous about directing her on location at the Sydney fish markets. Anyway, the shoot was about to begin and I gave her my script - just a few opening lines to get the thing happening. She read the lines and said, "This is great!" She immediately understood what I had in mind and went for it. From then on it was a breeze as she ad libbed her way through the rest of the takes. Here she is doing a cover of Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way.

But back to shopping: I bought 500g of ground veal and pork, mixed it with 2 tblsp tomato paste, dollop of tomato sauce, pinch of herbs, dried parsely, dried onion flakes and half a cup of shredded parmesan, rolled it into small balls (1"), placed 6 balls on a sheet of foil, sprinkled fresh chopped shallots over, sliced mushroom,  topped with a generous dollop of chopped tomatoes in basil and garlic sauce (thick so it doesn't run), and then folded the foil into a neat parcel. I made enough balls for 4 parcels, with half the mix left over for freezing. So guess what I'm having for dinner?

The last time I made foil parcels I used whole meat sliced, which was a bit too chewy for my sensitive teeth and gums, so the ground stuff should be much easier to handle. I'll find out soon enough.

And that's it for this Fridee. Time to catch up with Planet America on telly and learn a bit more about my mates "over there" hehe. Or curmudgeons. Do you know what a curmudgeon is? A crusty, ill-tempered old man, full of resentment and stubborn notions. However, on the other hand, a curmudgeon can be described thus: 

A curmudgeon's reputation for malevolence is undeserved. They're neither warped nor evil at heart. They don't hate mankind, just mankind's absurdities. They're just as sensitive and soft-hearted as the next guy, but they hide their vulnerability beneath a crust of misanthropy. They ease the pain by turning hurt into humor. They attack maudlinism because it devalues genuine sentiment. Nature, having failed to equip them with a servicable denial mechanism, has endowed them with astute perception and sly wit. Curmudgeons are mockers and debunkers whose bitterness is a symptom rather than a disease. They can't compromise their standards and can't manage the suspension of disbelief necessary for feigned cheerfulness. Their awareness is a curse.  Perhaps curmudgeons have gotten a bad rap in the same way that the messenger is blamed for the message: They have the temerity to comment on the human condition without apology. They not only refuse to applaud mediocrity, they howl it down with morose glee. Their versions of the truth unsettle us, and we hold it against them, even though they soften it with humor. - JON WINOKUR

I'll leave you to ponder that... Gary

August 23, 2012. So what'll I buy myself for my birthday? Is 13 a lucky number? 13 million is on offer for the Lotto draw next Tuesday, the night before I hit 68. Now wouldn't it be noice if some of that loot landed in my backyard. Sooooo, I bought a syndicate ticket rather than go solo, which means I share a systems 10 and a systems 11 with 9 other players. It's a pretty nifty way of increasing one's chances without breaking the bank. It also means sharing any prize the syndicate might win but what the hell. Winning the biggie is next to impossible anyway.

According to the forecast, Taree is gonna hit 28C today, and winter ain't over yet. That's 82.4F. But there's a possibility of a thunderstorm. Drat. The next few days or so will be sunny with low 20s, rising to mid 20s early next week. Not bad, huh? Probably a good excuse to get out there and give the bigger Fuji a run.

NC Art wrote: Watching those blokes peering under the bonnets reminded me of my Alaska motor trip with three buds who didn’t know a brake shoe from a spark plug. That left me as the resident fix-it guy and my expertise was damned shallow. Two of us had driver licenses and one had never driven a car, but learned on the trip. And, of course things went wrong.
    One standout memory is of mysterious engine shutdowns at 30 miles per hour. Happened in Montana, at the point near crossing into Canada. Wait five minutes and the engine started but repeated the balk. On the fourth occurrence I had the engine cover open and was staring at the works in frustration. I yelled to a bud to race the engine. And I saw the stall cause right away. The coil was shorting out and grounding to the block instead of sending current to spark plug.
    The why part was because a pinhole leak at top of radiator threw water back over the coil. I wrapped an oily rag around the coil and we chugged on to a town with a radiator shop. That was another small drama. We had little cash and made a deal with the mechanic to give him ten bucks to solder the hole and we would remove and re-install the radiator ourselves. That was the biggest part of the job.
    So we all learned a bit about how-things-work that day.

My dad was good at running repairs. I managed to plough headlong into a field one time by missing a turn. A sudden stop sent the fan into the radiator. Couldn't afford road service back then so I phoned good ol' dad. He arrived with a potato, plugged the leak in the radiator, topped up the water, and I was able to drive home. I've previously related the story of my mate and I arriving back in Sydney from the Gold Coast in my Morris Oxford. I coasted downhill much of the way, with the engine turned off, to save juice. At the bottom of the hill, turn the ignition back on, select top gear, ease out the clutch, and Bob's yer uncle. We were stopped at traffic lights just half a mile or so from his house when the engine died. So we pushed the car across the intersection into a service station, stopped at a bowser, searched under floormats and the mat in the boot and found 11 pence (10 cents). Hehe. In those days, that bought a quarter of a gallon, enough to get us to his place, borrow 5 bob from his sister, and then get me home (without spending the 5 bob).

His sister was a funny lady. She was grossly overweight. At dinner, she'd sit at the table, eat like a sparrow, and then retire to her room where she'd previously hidden a couple of burgers. The silly girl thought no one knew despite a telling aroma wafting throughout the entire house. One time, she went shopping for a new car and rather fancied the new Ford Falcon. But she couldn't fit her stomach under the steering wheel, so she settled for an English Ford Consul.

British cars in Oz took a sales nose-dive during the '60s (except for the Mini) because of competition from the Ford Falcon, Chrysler Valiant and Holden. BMC/Leyland held on to its conservative boxy styling despite buyer preference for a sleeker, wider, lower American look. I didn't understand it at all because I thought the Pininfarina style was pretty snazzy.

The other day, when I posted the pic of the Olympic lads wearing tight uniforms, I mentioned that motocross riders were covered head to toe. According to Ohio Jace, that's not always the case...

Jace goes on to talk about circumcision: They have found another excuse to circumcise boys. Uncut dicks will increase medical cost in both men and women that adds up to USD $505 million per year. The circumcision rate has been dropping from 80% in the 1970s and 1980s to only 54.7% in 2010. Many insurance companies no longer pay for the procedure considering it optional. Many states no longer pay under the Medicaid system, which mainly covers the poor. The article is based on a 10% circumcision rate similar to Europe's. My brother was the first one in the family circumcised and all other males in the family after have been. Our boys were not supposed to be, but when the oldest arrived our doc was on vacation so he was delivered by another and cut. The youngest was cut so he would “match” his brother.

I'm not entirely sure what I would do if I had a son. I'm uncircumcised so I'd probably go for that. But I would be sure to educate a son (or sons) about the difference between the two. Kids are naturally curious and automatically check out their peers at school to see what's what. As an uncircumcised kid amongst a vast majority of circumcised peers, I developed a major complex, exacerbated by a neighbor a few years older than I who said that mine was a reject and that I'd never have kids. As it turned out I didn't but not because there was anything wrong with my willie. A total lack of sex education at school as well as my parents failure to discuss sex at home only prolonged my ignorance.

These days, I'm older and far more cynical. It's not coincidental that Jesus was born of the Immaculate Conception ya know. Can't have all that hip swiveling and thrusting going on. What a joke. 

Remember those padlocks I bought on eBay? 3 packs of 4, each pack keyed alike? And the colored rings to tell one set from tother? Well, I was fitting the colored rings when I noticed two keys from separate packs that looked pretty similar. Similar? They're identical! So now I have 12 padlocks that can be opened by a single key, plus 23 spare keys. How many blokes do you know with 23 spare keys to a single lock? No too many, right? I've always wanted to be famous for something, so now I am.

Just finished surfing the web for prices on gas refills and how long a 9kg bottle lasts. Seems you can run a gas fridge and a 2-burner gas stove for about $10 a week. With a second solar panel I might be able to run the fridge on electricity alone, which is free. Or I could alternate between gas and electricity depending on the weather. One thing I learned... make sure the camper is parked on dead level ground before using the fridge. After six months on the road I'll be an expert. Now I'm just a guesser.

I'm also wondering how long, on average, I'll remain camped at any particular spot. I suppose it'll depend on the spot, but I have a tendency to get settled and comfy - not to mention lazy - so moving to another location might not be all that appealing in certain circumstances.

Anyway, back to the present and Taree and 5pm and telly and dinner and all that baloney. How boring. Seeyaz tomorrow. Gary

August 22, 2012. Well, what's going on here? Dunno. Can't connect to my ISP. So I phoned only to get a busy signal. Maybe they're down and getting a rush of callers.

My ex-boss from my days in Bega during the mid '70s wrote a stack of stuff about the things he's been doing since then, and they are staggering. He was up here in the Manning Valley setting up a cinema advertising biz which grew into a huge enterprise, and is still running. And I didn't know about it? Damn! It could have been a nice little earner for me doing voice overs and scripts for the past 10 years. He also bought and sold various radio stations during that period and made a lot of money... specializing in buying unprofitable stations for a song, turning them around, and then selling them. He laments my not returning to Bega because I missed out on all the expansion plans that came to fruition. When I was there, Bega was making an annual profit of a few hundred thou. A few years later it was making multi millions while I was flip flopping around the traps with no direction. Oh well...

But the thing that really grabbed me was how he vividly remembers me telling him the reason I was leaving... "I ran outta footballers at the Grand Hotel (where I was living)". Hehe. I SAID THAT? Me and my BIG mouth. I can't believe I said that (even though it's true). Ever since I posted Scrapbook on AO, old colleagues have been contacting me and reviving memories of embarrassing moments I'd forgotten. Or chosen to. Seems I was much more of a terror in my younger days than I thought.

So that blows any chance I might have had of getting to heaven.

Ray is also big time into trains, both model and real. He's on the executive board of management of a large train museum in Sydney (which I must visit), and also a member of various steam loco clubs, including the one that runs the 3237 I videoed a month or two ago. The poor old thing died here in Taree and had to be towed back to its home near Newcastle. I was on board when it died.

Ah! Back on line. I checked the bigger Fuji to see what kinda memory card it has. Oops, only 1GB, and it's an Olympus XD, about half the size of an SD. So then I Googled Fuji to find out what max memory it can handle (it's a 2004 camera). 2GB, which provides about 30 mins of 640x480 vid. So I splurged $40 on 2 x 2GB cards from Hong Kong with free postage. 30 mins of wild footage is not what it seems. Edited down, it's probably worth about 10 minutes max.

BTW, I just put together an album of the stills I took at the Old Holdens Show 'n Shine. There's not very many but if you wanna check out the pics at a more leisurely pace, especially of the 1929 Marocette, this is the way to do it. The owner of the Marocette used my little Olympus digital voice recorder to say a bit about the car and its history but I didn't use it on the vid. Hehe. If you didn't understand the hill billy with the FC Holden there's no way you would have understood the owner of the Marocette.

Which reminds me of something Oregon Richie said about the types of people who are attracted to vintage motor shows: I watched the GM and Holden show this morning; albeit somewhat quietly since Becky was still asleep and evidently did not have a good nights sleep anyway, and it was really great !!  Well done, mate... very.  Pretty cool.  It looked to me, with the variety of vehicles and custom work... to actually have a very American look in many of the vehicles.  And there are just as many ugly bastards ( but possibly very wonderful people ) at those shows with wild, weird, scuffy beards, and sagging guts... ) at those shows as anywhere else.  Okay... very nasty comment but a view nonetheless, hee hee.

There were a couple of American cars there, a Corvette, a Pontiac and a Chevy Camaro ute. The majority were Holdens most of which through the years were Chevrolet/Pontiac based, usually scaled down somewhat to suit the Oz market. There were also a couple of Toranas loosely based on the British Vauxhall but given a bit of Aussie beef with straight sixes and V8s. The most popular Holden at the mo, the Cruz, is a re-badged 4-pot German Opel. Paul, the radiator bloke down the road, hates them. He reckons they're the worst car to work on under the bonnet/hood (but he says the owners love 'em). He drives an old Holden panel van similar to my old Tough Titties. His missus drives a later model Commodore. I had trouble remembering her name so he said to me one day, think of tennis... a net...Annette. Hehe. He's the same age as me, give or take a few days. But much uglier.

What's the worst drink of all? Dylan Moran reckons it's gin. On the other hand, Dylan has this to say about wine tasting

So here we are again; shadows creeping across roadways are getting longer and the air's beginning to freshen. Another day prepares to join the countless billions preceeding it while another prepares to take center stage. I still can't believe I said I was leaving because I'd run outta footballers. Who the hell puts something like THAT in a resignation? Oh well... Gary

August 21, 2012. I wrote to the secretary of the Old Holdens Club and let her know about the vid on Youtube, so she's gonna let all the members know. That should bolster the views a bit.

TX Greg wrote: That wasn't bad. I didn't notice the focus problem at all. Just a little crackling in the sound at times.

Yes, well, old chap, I did a bit of fancy editing and left a bunch of stuff on the cutting room floor hehe. It doesn't look too bad in small format but you notice the faults a lot more on a bigger screen. Anyway, cest la vie... keep on buggering on regardless, I say.

NC Art had this to say about Stoner as well as the Old Holdens: Stoner’s outrageous fortune seems to be a big hazard for active competitors—whatever their business. So son Keith is working on a big action movie called Iron Man III, and the star has just broken a foot. Threw the whole giant enterprise into a cluster-f**k. Robert Downey, Jr. is main actor, so shooting came to a halt, possibly for weeks unless doctors and film wizards can cobble up a work-around. I think Keith might like a week off from the 12-hour work days of climbing about on huge sets and squabbling with insanely oversized egos which are naturally attracted to the insane world of movie making.

And you are fretting about shooting an antique car show? Actually it was good, I thought, and did credit to the CARS. That’s what it was about, my toothless old curmudgeon. Voices didn’t meet sound stage quality, but what the hell.

Yes, the voices. When I first asked those blokes to make a comment they said no. So I told them I needed a couple of hill-billy drunks to give the vid a bit of a lift and they said okay. Hehe. The guy with the hat wasn't prepared to say much but the other bloke did. I'm an Aussie but I had trouble trying to decipher what the hell he said. I think it's "Fucking FC Holden, mate, with 5 carbies. Fast car. Gotta know your cars, mate." Or something like that. When I mentioned I'd forgotten to put my teeth in, the bloke with the hat whipped his out and showed me. Then he did the Cheshire cat grin and revealed several vacancies in his top row. Shoulda taken a pic but I wasn't quick enough.

Have you noticed I have a propensity for right to left pans? I think it's because I'm left handed. Gotta watch that cos too many pans (especially in the same direction, one after another) is not a good look.

Meanwhile, Stoner was able to participate in yesterday's race and managed 4th. Maybe the fall made him a little more cautious about pushing his bike and himself to the absolute limits. Actually, Ohio Jace wrote and added the following info: The whole weekend was filled with crashes. One was a multi-bike pileup. Lot's of bruises and some broken bones. Casey was on crutches before and after the race.

Also, yesterday Jace referred to his local TV talk show being agog about the tight uniforms worn by Olympic male cyclists and rowers. Today he sent the pic that caused all the agogness. Is that a word? Dozen madder. Maybe it's agogity.

Sheesh! That caused agogness? Ohioans must be a pretty sensitive lot. Anyway, why didn't someone tell the bloke on the right to hold his flowers lower? In fact, maybe they all should have used their posies to discreetly cover their thingamejigs and avoid outrage from potential agogaphobes. Hehe.

I arrived home from a little excursion to town a short while ago to find an email from some bloke with a Mexican sounding name who graciously used PayPal to send me 711USD. Ooer! How nice! But on further scrutiny, I noticed I wasn't addressed by my full name (as PayPal normally does). Also, there was a text message from my ISP that an attachment had been removed from the email. Hello? Then I checked my PayPal account and there was no mention of $711. Yes, folks, it was an attempt by some asshole to invade my computer with a virus. There are some nasty peeps out there. Good thing my ISP keeps a close watch on those things.

Another email I received was from my old boss at Bega radio station, Ray Rumble. I've since received a second in which he outlines all the things he's done since '77. Bloody hell, talk about busy! He always did have stacks of energy and an indomitable will to make things happen. It's a long story so I'll tell you about it tomorrow. He often visits Taree (where he still does a bit of business), and has invited me for a few beers and a Chinese meal. I can handle the beers but not sure about the meal. Anyway, more tomorrow. Gary

August 20, 2012. Yep, the Old Holdens vid is now uploaded to Youtube. I started editing it last night (bad decision... got engrossed and forewent dinner and everything else) and then resumed this morning. I'm not happy with it. Too many auto focus probs and lens glare, but it's passable. I have two choices at the mo... get a better video camera or limit my shots to what the Fuji can handle comfortably. Can't afford a new one so... go figure. Actually, next time I might try the bigger Fuji. I can put a lens hood on that one and it's a better quality camera (albeit older).

And yes, that's me yelling "And ACTION!" without my teeth in. Hehe.

What a bloke needs now is a bloody drink. Several. So it's a bloody good thing NC Art sent this link to a vid of a Ukraine bartender with a few tricks up his sleeve.

Ohio Jace also wrote yesterday: Casey Stoner had a nasty spill in either practice or qualifying and may not race tomorrow. This is his last year.

From what I can find on Google, Stoner tore a ligament in his ankle but it's possible he'll be fit to ride again and go on to defend his title. It's always the way, isn't it... decide to quit the game and whammo. Casey wants to retire and spend more time with his family.

Jace also has this to say: You mentioned tight jeans on Waffle: a local TV talk show was agog about the tight uniforms worn by the male Cyclists and Rowers in the Olympics. The photos were so explicit the groin area was blurred out. One was from the medal ceremony. A quick Google will reveal what the "controversy" was about. Of course the commentator was female. Women wear almost nothing on the beach and men are covered from waist to knees with baggy boardies to hide the junk. Even women who should not been seen on the beach wear skimpy bikinis. You know the ones; boobs sagging to the waist and the belly hangs to their knees. Guys here are still running around with half their underwear exposed and the butt cheeks hanging out. Justin Bieber is one of the worst offenders. He was on Ellen once with purple briefs clearly visible, as well as most of his ass. Do not see it so much here locally.

No, not here either... and certainly not on the track at motocross meets hehe. Those blokes are covered from head to toe, literally. But a bit of skin has always titillated the gawkers. Remember the days when women were brazen enough to show a bit of ankle? NC Art remembers those days. And then the ladies had the temerity to reveal toes in toeless shoes! My god, how daring was that??? 20 years ago I saw a young bloke in Glebe with small holes cut in his T-shirt to reveal his nipples. I thought that was overdoing it a bit hehe. People sure are weird. And that includes... no, I won't go there.

As to guns and idiots, Jace comments: Every time a mass shooting occurs here it is brought up that drunk drivers kill 10,000 peeps per year. Everyday on the news you hear about shootings in Columbus, some days several. And they keep making it easier to get guns.

Well, I'm not sure drunk drivers can be compared to loonies with guns. Two different issues, apples and oranges, and as the old saying goes, two wrongs don't make a right. And speaking of right, I heard a bloke on radio today commenting about Oz drivers breaking the law while talking on a mobile (cell) phone. He said 98% of drivers consider themselves above average, so that laws prohibiting such activites only apply to "inferior" drivers... not themselves. Only 2% of drivers consider themselves below average. Yeah... I can believe that. Ditto with gun ownership, I suspect.

Meanwhile, Jace's great nephew continues to recover from his motocross accident and, typically, wants to compete again. Hehe. BOYS! But I think the little bloke has a bigger problem with wanting to live with his dad rather than being shared between his dad and his biological mom. What a sad pickle for a kid to be in through no fault of his own.

And in Oregon, Richie and Becky are shouting their joy to the world, especially Becky who's relishing every moment of her special occasion on Facebook by posting pics of the rings and updates about plans for the ceremony, etc. Isn't romance wonderful? The ring is Richie's mother's wedding ring. She passed away at 90+ not long ago. And the message written on the sand? Becky wrote that... and Richie added "forever".

Yes, a joy shared is a joy multiplied. The need to share is like a dam about to burst unless the flood gates are released. I feel the same way, albeit not for the same reason, about the Odyssey. Sharing is everything. Obviously not everyone traveling Oz feels the same but, for me, there'd be no point unless I could write about it and photograph it, and share it with peeps like YOU. Invisible audiences are wonderful... they don't weigh anything.

And now, ladies and genitals, we've reached that time again when I must cease waffling and focus on bellies and tellies. I've hardly eaten a thing since I started editing that damn Holden vid. If I'm not careful I'll waste away to nothing! And then I'll weigh as much as you do! Gary

August 19, 2012. All the morning duties have been performed... email read, sites checked for updates, tea and coffee consumed, etc. So in about an hour or so I'll be pointing the Ford towards Cundletown and the Holden S&S. It's only a mile or two up the road. My dissertation yesterday about cars and the memories they evoke prompted NC Art to reminisce:

    The horseless carriage story takes a monster place in man’s inventiveness. Easy to understand why my dad fell in love with the machines. Born in 1874 and living 12 miles from a town, a trip to the courthouse required rising before dawn, saddling a horse or hitching up a buggy. And of course horses need oats as cars need gasoline, but horses don’t start with a yank on a crank. And the horse trip required the early start and entire day before seeing home again after dark.
    Dad’s first machine was a T-Model Ford with large wheels and small tires to chug through mud and shallow creeks. An industry dedicated to paving widened roads, building bridges, and fueling stations grew with astonishing speed to accommodate man’s insatiable hunger to get somewhere else--and hopefully back. A lot of car making companies appeared—and disappeared--through the generations, some classics and some misfits.
    A few I remember include a Star Roadster with an enclosed cockpit and a rumble seat behind. There was an Essex, tall,  boxy and roomy. Unfortunately the alcohol anti-freeze agent boiled away one day before a hard freeze which cracked the block. A 1932 A-Model Ford was a real workhorse until Dad skidded off a mountain road and broke it. Another Ford was the 1937 V-8 60 horsepower; fast but underpowered for the body. Two years and it was junk. A ‘39 Chevrolet with “Vacumatic Drive” was his final vehicle. The new drive feature was a forerunner of fluid automatic shift.
    Some odd machines came and went as the boys of the family acquired this and that. Two brothers operated a service station and accepted cars in lieu of cash occasionally. One was a Chrysler touring car which boasted two reverse and five forward speeds. In extra low the thing would out-pull a tractor and the cruising gear would sail along at 70 mph! Another was a B-Model Ford Coupe, and another a stripped down T-Model Ford. My first bicycle was acquired in payment for a gasoline fill-up.
    I’ve likely missed a few strays here and I won’t go into the beasts I’ve owned over the years.

Yep, production engines back in the '30s, even V8s, were flat out trying to produce 100 horses. Now they get over 200 horses from a V6. Even back in the '60s, a Chrysler Valiant managed 165 from a straight 6. An uncle bought the first of the Valiants in 1961 but sold it soon afterwards because it was "too powerful" for a light body. He settled for a British Humber Super Snipe which was much more sedate. But he soon got pissed off with that as well because the bulge in the seat just under the knee caused his leg to go numb. Hehe.

Cars are a bit like friends. I've owned several over the years all of which have earned a sentimental place in my heart for one reason or another, but I'm not sure I have an absolute fav. My current Ford ute is a good car... pleasant to drive with oodles of power and precise handling. I just hope my next one is as good.

In fact, I'm sure my next vehicle together with the camper will eventually earn an extra special place in my heart simply because it/they will have been the means by which I managed to visit interesting places all over Oz as well as being my home. In a few years from now, I should have a stack of memories that I'll treasure for the rest of my life... and write about. That's the theory.

BACK! Well, that was a bit of a disaster. The weather was sunny and bright, the sky was blue, and the turnout of old Holdens was great. In fact, it was almost a summer day with lots of people in short sleeves and one young bloke with no sleeves at all. He was bare-chested with a pretty decent bod but a rough head. In any case, he arrived with his dopey mate after I'd finished the shoot. Once home, I transferred the footage to the Acer and checked it out. That's when I noticed the auto focus having a helluva time trying to figure out what to focus on, especially during pans. A fair bit of the stuff is unusable. I'm not entirely sure why the auto focus was going troppo but I suspect it was caused by the relative closeness of some subjects to the lens, and then panning to those more distant, or vice versa.

Also, I was getting a lot of lens flare from sunlight reflections on chrome and mirror-like paintwork. I've never noticed that problem before so maybe it had something to do with high UV or the camera itself. It was a very bright sky. Also lots of cars were parked half in and half out of shade which makes it impossible for the camera to set an average apperture. So it looks like I'll have quite the task ahead of me in editing all the stuff into a respectable video. Another prob could be the live music which will be stopping and starting out of sequence with each edit. I'm hoping it won't matter but it might, in which case I'll deal with it.

So there ya go... live and learn, yeah? Forewarned is forearmed and this experience will stand me in good stead for the next shoot. Meanwhile, I gotta deal with the current mess hehe. This time, I didn't bother to drop the monopod to the ground. Instead, I used it at collapsed length (about 2') and held it with one hand while I held the camera with the other, giving it reasonable stability. There's a bit of shake but nothing worth worrying about. I'll get stuck into the edit tomorrow... or maybe even start tonight. There are about 120 different takes so it's gonna take a while. Oh well, it's all good practice.

Oh yes... last but not least, I realized when one bloke spoke to me that I'd forgotten to put my bloody teeth in.

So that was my day, dear. How was yours? Gary

August 18, 2012. Oregon Richie has mentioned in dispatches that he hears quite a lot of racial slurs aimed at Obama. I wonder if the same thing happens in black communities when there's a white president in power. Reminds me of that expression about leopards not being able to change their spots. Racists are racists, and no amount of education or legislation will change their attitude, I suspect. On the other hand, I've noticed that if you put a whole bunch of kids from racially different backgrounds into a school playground, they happily mix and make friends with each other. Segregation breeds suspicion.

NC Art also wrote about the Rio Tower: Seems the verdict hasn’t been delivered on the Rio Solar wonder. According to web opinion, the thing is a pipedream, viciously expensive, impractical, and will require more energy to operate than it produces. Armchair engineers cite inefficiency, laws of thermodynamics, hydraulic properties, and any number of obstacles. But, it’s right pretty, even tho some squawked about the aesthetics, claiming it will pollute the visual sea/landscape of the whole Rio experience.
    Well, we gotta have soreheads to bitch about everything. Probably Christopher Wren had his critics while building St. Paul’s Church in London. And some smart asses probably claimed the Tower Bridge would fall down in a year or two. What about Sydney opera house?
    “What man can imagine, man can do,” was an aphorism frequently heard in my childhood. I thought that wasn’t quite true, but a look at some structures that stood the test of time lends some credence. The cathedrals in Europe were built over hundreds of years, the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, has been under construction for more than 100 years and it still has some finishing touches to be done. Perseverance or just damned stubbornness? Did the pyramid builders study geometry, calculus and trigonometry in high school? 

Interesting question about the pyramid builders. As to the Sydney Opera House and its radical design, I think Jørn Utzon managed to convince the bureaucrats that those soaring white shells represent billowing sails which complement Sydney Harbor and its maritime history. Anyway, 50 years down the track, it's impossible to imagine Sydney without it. I think it's a magic building with a timeless quality. The Bridge is a classic design as well, and it's a most fortuitous thing that Bradfield managed to convince the authorities to include those sandstone pillars at each end (which are purely decorative and have nothing to do with structural integrity) despite the extra cost. The old Coathanger simply wouldn't be the same without them. It was built during the Great Depression at a cost of a million pounds, whereas the Opera House was funded by the state-run Opera House Lottery.

Lindsay's dad just phoned to wish his son a happy birthday. Dad's 80 something, and I sound older than he does! Hehe. He didn't recognize me at first.

Oh yeah... the foil parcels. Well, the beef one I had last night wasn't too bad. A bit spicy but that's because my tongue and mouth are extra sensitive after all the radiation. I also overdid the olive oil. The meat was tender but a tad too chewy for my sore gums. Typically, I rushed in before doing any research. AFTER THE EVENT, I checked Google and discovered a couple of cooking sites with recipes for meals wrapped in foil. Doh! I was pretty close to the mark with my first attempt but could have done a couple of things differently... like spray the foil with oil rather than dribble it from a bottle. I got the liquid thing right... not too much... the moisture in the meat and vegies creates enough steam to cook the food, and 30 minutes in a moderate oven is enough.

Here's one if you happen to be a sweet tooth: Place a donut on sheet of foil. Mix tblsp softened butter and tblsp brown sugar together and spread it over the donut. Place a pineapple ring on top. Wrap the donut in a tight flat pack. Place on hot coals and cook for 5-7 minutes. Yes, the butter and brown sugar would turn into a caramel sauce. Sounds delish!

Anyway, I've decided to experiment further with this idea, using ground beef, ground chicken (formed into patties or balls), canned crushed tomatoes, canned soups, fresh vegies and other ingredients. And I'll do a bit more planning rather than off-the-top-of-my-head stuff.

From the Beeb: The Obama campaign says if Mitt Romney releases five years of tax returns, they will drop the issue - an offer rejected by the Republican candidate. The heat is on. I noted on Planet America last night that Romney is edging ahead in the polls. If the election had been held last week, the Republicans would have won. But it's still a tight call with 11 weeks to go. It surprises me because I thought Obama would win easily. Not so.

As to the fate of Wikileaks boss: The UK says it wants an "amicable solution" to the diplomatic crisis over Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after Ecuador granted him political asylum. The Ecuadoreans say they are looking for guarantees that after any trial in Sweden there would be no further extradition, and for safeguards over how Mr Assange would be held in Sweden would be met.

Meanwhile, in Moscow: Moscow's top court has upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for the next 100 years. How absurd is that? How the hell could anyone predict what public sentiment might be in 2112?

But back to what Art said about what man can imagine, man can do. Lots of things that exist today existed decades ago in comic books. It all begins with an idea, which leads to a plan. Man is basically a problem solver. But you can't solve a problem unless you have one. Imagination creates the problem, which the practical side of the brain then goes about solving. Once upon a time villagers had to go to the river to drink. Then someone got the bright idea to use a container so that water could be carried from the river to the hut. Some other bright spark figured out how to weave baskets. I read somewhere that our brains grew in size and ability because of our twin opposed thumbs, which gave us superior dexterity to other animals, and the wherewithall to fashion tools and various other implements. The more we fashioned, the more creative and adventurous we became, and the bigger our brains became. The ol' one thing leads to another trick.

Nature's got all the time in the world, so if it takes another few thousand years or so for mankind to evolve to a stage where it inhabits the entire cosmos, with lots of Scotties and lots of beaming up, no worries. If that pisses you off as a three score and ten mortal missing out on all the innovation, tough titties. Nature couldn't give a rat's ass.

Blowing like the dickens today but fine. The wind will ease later and tomorrow looks okay. I'm trying to anticipate what tomorrow's Holden extravaganza will bring. The last one I attended wasn't all that exciting. Maybe I left it a bit late to arrive. This time they reckon there'll be market stalls and live music, as well as trophies and prizes. Anyway, shooting a movie rather than a bunch of stills has its own unique challenges. Here's an old newsreel (with bits missing) about the design and testing phase of the first Holden back in '48.

I was only 4 when the first Holden hit the road, but I remember them from the '50s. Car ownership was pretty rare then, especially new cars, and the things fascinated me. Once in a while, dad would bring one of the bosses cars home and take us for a ride. That was really something special. These days, they're a dime a dozen. In fact, I wonder if most of modern cars will ever become classics like the Ford convertible from Karate Kid. Jeez, I think that's a gorgeous thing.

My dad wasn't prone to doing anything extravagant or unusual so it was a surprise one day when he arrived home with a cuckoo clock, which he attached to the kitchen wall. The clock face was a little house with a high-pitched roof and two doorways. A man dressed in an overcoat and hat would emerge from one doorway if rain was imminent, and a woman in a colorful sundress with sunhat would emerge from the other when the weather was fine. Below the clock face was a long chain in two lengths, each with an acorn attached to the bottom. The clock was wound by pulling the higher chain down, causing its twin to rise. As I recall, the cuckoo never appeared, but could be heard on the hour. Now that I think about it, there was no clock in the kitchen before the cuckoo arrived, so my guess is that mom asked my dad to buy one... and he took a fancy to that one.

There's no cuckoo clock in this house, but there are two cuckoos. Some might even say three.

After 5pm now and I found myself day dreaming again. The dream was about parking too close to the Holden Show 'n' Shine and discovering my car later splattered with pro-Holden and anti-Ford graffiti. But in the dream I managed to film the culprits who were later identified by police and charged. Then I claimed on insurance and got $3000. The car was undamaged apart from the paint so I sold it to a guy for $1000. That gave me a total of $4000 for which I bought a good used 4WD ute. Hehe. Not a bad dream.

Anyway, it's time to relax in front of the telly (much better in front, I've discovered) and repackage the chicken foil thingy so there's less olive oil. I'm curious to know what it'll be like with the wholegrain mustard. Gary

August 17, 2012. Here we go again. Sue's got it into her head that she wants to go up the road to the shops. Lindsay's running around telling her this and that, and it's all going over Sue's head. He wants to take a shower. But the moment he disappears into the bathroom, she'll take the opportunity to leave the house. Or try to. I've locked the security door.

One loony looking after another loony. Sheesh.

Have you seen Rio's Solar City Tower? It will be the welcome symbol for the 2016 Olympic Games. The tower captures solar power to supply energy for the Olympic city, as well as part of Rio . It pumps water from the ocean to create a waterfall that stimulates turbines, producing energy during the night. Pretty clever, yes?

Meanwhile, my vids on Youtube are slowly getting more views. The steam loco is now at 111, and Taree has just broken the century barrier at 101. Sydney is now 74. Not exactly Guinness Book of Records material but encouraging. I'm not doing anything to promote them so people must using search engines and/or recommending the vids to friends.

Does the porta potti fit into the camper side storage bin? Yes, with a couple of inches to spare. Does the ice box fit? No. Don't need it anyway so I'll sell it and get a smaller one. I figure ice will be a practical alternative to gas in certain circumstances. Took another look at the battery and ac/dc converter. What a mess... wires everywhere. Definitely needs an electrician to tidy up that abomination, and declare it safe. Two deep cycle batteries would be nice as well.

Meanwhile, the Ecuadorean government has granted political asylum to Julian Assange. Now all he's gotta do is figure out how to get from the embassy to the airport without being nabbed by British police.

Bad news in South Africa with police opening fire on striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine, leaving at least 12 dead. I was horrified to read that until I also read that the strikers were armed with machetes, spears and clubs, and had thrown missiles thought to be either petrol bombs or grenades. That's not a strike, that's a war.

Well, it's 4pm and getting a bit fresh. Been a nice day, though, with plenty of sunshine and 22C. I spent time at the mall shopping for those things I mentioned yesterday... steak, chicken, sauces, vegies, etc. Then Averil phoned for a chat... from all of 20 or 30 yards away hehe. And then it was time to hit the kitchen to make foil parcels of goodies. It was all guesswork so I hope I guessed okay. I made four parcels... 2 steak and 2 chicken, using about half of what I bought. 2 are in the freezer. I'll try a steak one tonight.

All up, I spent just under $30 on ingredients which will make 8 or 9 parcels. So what's that? A bit over $3 each. And all top grade stuff... and plenty of it.

I didn't want to add too much liquid to the parcels so I'm relying on the moisture content of the meat and vegies, together with tomato paste and olive oil, to steam the food and blend with a sprinkle of powdered sauce to make a nice gravy. Good thing I bought fresh mushies rather than dried. In the steak parcels, I also added a splash of Worcestershire. The chicken parcels have a dollop of wholegrain mustard. So, fingers crossed. 

The Thai black bean thing last night wasn't too bad but, jeez, you don't get much for your money. Heaps of rice and hardly any meat and veg. There's probably less than a dollar's worth of food content. The rest is labor, packaging, transport, etc.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is gonna be windy but Sunday looks okay, which is good for the Old Holdens Show. I'm always nervous about a video shoot until I get into it. Reminds me of Cody being invited to Mark's place for dinner. Mark opened the front door and said, "Are you wearing Brute?" "Yeah." "Must've used the whole bottle." Hehe. Anyway, hopefully I'll return home from the Holden meet with a bunch of cool footage and spend the next day or two editing what will ultimately be an interesting and entertaining fillum.

Dunno about music yet, but there's a web site I checked out the other day that sells good instrumental stuff, with a variety of moods, rhythms, styles, etc. You can use it for whatever you like and only pay a one-time license fee of $10 a track or less if you buy 5 or 10 or whatever. You can also use the site to edit each track to a specific length. So once you finish editing the vision, you can figure out what kind of music you need, and what lengths, and then order it to suit. Hmmm. Depends on how the vid stacks up by itself. Maybe it won't need music. I hate vids that use music fade-outs. I like clean beginnings and endings.

If all this digital technology had been available 20 years ago, I could have set up my own edit suite and specialized in corporate vids. Coulda made a fortune. A pro edit suite with all the bells and whistles would only cost about 10 grand. Oh well...

Anyway, it's time for a wrap. I'll let you know how the beef parcel turned out tomorrow. Or maybe I won't. Hehe. Gary

August 16, 2012. Art's Art - Recollections of a Small Town Boy - is now updated with two new essays, Tramp Printers and Gold Diggers, and Hog Killing. The latter is about the days before delicatessens - or delis as we now call them. When I was a kid, they were called the Ham & Beef Shop because the Italians and Greeks who ran them thought Aussies were too dumb to appreciate something as sophisticated as delicatessen. And they were right, of course. I remember the smell of the Ham & Beef shop; fresh, clean and spicy. But I was always suspicious of the weird looking sausages hanging along rails suspended from the ceiling, especially the black ones. And I still am.

Actually, there was a cooking show on telly recently about a mobile restaurant designed to introduce people to a new cuisine (in Oz anyway)... offal. A team of chefs prepared a number of dishes all of which featured things like tongues, brains, hearts and other internal organs, and even testicles. Bugger that. They can stick their nouvelle cuisine right up their collective clacker. I don't care how chic it is.

TX Greg wrote: So the Mustang did get a shot off, hehe. And I would have thought by now you would have spent one night sleeping in it just to get the feel of it. The first day I got my Winnebago I just had to sleep in it, on the street in front of my parent's house. Yes too often the first time RV buyer has no clue about all the things we take for granted living in a house like electric, water and sewer.

You what? Slept in the Winnebago on the street in front of your parent's house? How pathetically childish is that? How juvenile! Yes, I did the same thing when I bought the Kombi campervan, except it was across the road from my own house in Glebe. I was careful, though, to wake before sunrise and tippy toe back inside my house before the neighbors saw me.

Greg also wrote: Here's a really cute kid helping his dad dump the holding tank for the first time in their new Winnebago....

AND... And speaking of porta potty check out the bloke fishing, hahahahaha.......

I've not seen those hose-type systems for emptying holding tanks. Maybe they're in caravan parks but all I've seen in national park camp grounds is a pit type arrangement where you tip the porta potti tank contents into a hole manually. And if there's no pit? Grab the spade and dig one. However, most camp grounds have public toilets and some even have showers.

On the subject of loos, Bill Gates is now flushing his money down the toilet according to a Beeb report.

Gardeners have been using and utilizing poo for thousands of years, and it's high time serious attention was paid to recycling waste rather than using a precious resource like water to flush it out of sight and mind. A lot of the public bush toilets I've seen in national parks have signs warning against dumping chemically treated waste into them. They use a natural organic/bacterial method of dealing with the waste. Have you ever seen those wonderful little dung beetles going about the business of forming dung into balls and rolling it home to the missus? Hehe. "Hello, darling! I'm home! You'll never guess what I've got!"

I see that Julian Assange is not out of trouble yet. The British government has threatened to revoke the Ecuadorian embassy's diplomatic status if they refuse to hand over Assange for extradition to Sweden, in which case British police could storm the embassy and arrest Assange. Ecuador has protested that it's not a British colony. "Ecuador rejects in the most emphatic terms the explicit threat of the British official communication." I can only imagine that Assange now regrets having launched Wikileaks in his attempt to become the great champion of free speech and freedom of information.

I've noticed young girls getting around town lately in short shorts. So, the wheel turns, yes? And so do quite a few heads. Justin's blog posted an article about tight jeans. Seems they're back in fashion along with press articles about the dangers of twisted testicles and urinary infections. When I wore tight jeans as a teen, my dad remarked that he also wore them as a teen "when they called them stove pipes". My dad wore pointy-toed shoes as well. So it looks like we'll be hearing expressions like "lunch" and "package" a lot more once the young blokes start pulling on their stove pipes and trying to fit their naughty bits inside. Hehe. And if the boys follow the girls, as I suspect they will, it looks like we'll be in for cheeky buns and longer thighs as well. That's okay... I need to get out more anyway.

So there ya go, all that's old is new again... including the newspaper articles about squashed wobbly bits. By the way, is a bit of ass crack still in? Or showing the top of your undies? It's been winter here so I haven't noticed. Not that I never did, of course. *ahem*

It hasn't been typically winter today though. I even saw a few peeps getting around in short sleeves. However, as the sun dips closer to the horizon it's becoming a little fresh. It'll soon be time to flick the switch and rub the hands together.

And that time is now. Thai beef and black bean with vegies tonight. Sounds cool but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I was disappointed with the last two La Zuppas. The first one I had at Port Macquarie was delicious, with tender strips of chicken and mushroom. In the last, the vegies were mushy and the pasta was tacky, and in the chicken one the chicken meat was stringy and chewy. I'll email the buggers and tell 'em they're off my shopping list. I'd rather make my own but it's hard to make stuff in small batches. Actually, I might try baking things like chicken breast, tender cuts of steak and fish fillets wrapped in foil, with various things added that become a sauce during cooking. I could prepare them in advance, freeze them, and pop them in the oven one at a time as needed. Foil is good stuff. From freezer to oven to plate. And I could make those parcels for a fraction of the cost of ready made.

Yes, I'll do that tomorrow... chicken fillet, eye fillet steak and fish fillets. And some packet sauces to make life easier. And fresh shallots. Gotta have shallots. And celery and carrot. Peas or beans? Why not. They cook in the steam. And dried mushrooms. And some tomato paste. How long in the oven? Buggered if I know. Probably 20-30 minutes on moderate. AND, if you wrap the foil parcel correctly, you can place it directly on the oven shelf without needing a baking dish. Saves washing up.

Telly time now, and then I'll try that Thai thing. Gary

August 15, 2012. The forecast for next Sunday and the Old Holdens show is looking okay... mostly sunny and 18C. Pity it's not as good as today, 23C, but ya git what ya git. Most directors and crews do a reckie (recognizance) to check the scene before filming, but I don't have that luxury. What happens on the day is what happens on the day. Actually, on a typical shoot, the camera crew would be sent on location a day or so early to get "establishment" shots of the area before the rest of the crew arrived. For me, it's arrive, check out the scene, go for it.

My vids on Youtube are adding a new view or two each day, ever so slowly gaining an audience. Young Cody Simpson, the Aussie singer, has a helluva lot more pull. I noticed the other day his new post about a missing kid had 300 views. The next day it had 30,000. Sheesh.

We had a bit of rain a few days ago so I checked the camper. Dryzabone. I also checked the spare keys and they work just fine. I sat in the corner of the divan (the rounded corner supports the back quite nicely), swiveled the dinette table out of the way, and then thought about how I could design a support for the laptop at proper typist height (same as piano with forearms parallel to the floor). Too easy. A piece of timber 18" x 12" x 1/2", with 7.5" deep hinged ends that form legs when folded down. The ends rest on the surface of the divan and the top acts as a desk with sufficient room to cross my legs underneath (which I like to do when typing). I could use the dinette table but it's a bit too high. So that's settled. I wanna be comfortable when I Waffle. I'll ask Stan the Lawn Man to make it for me... he's got all those power tools and wotnots.

I must admit, TX Greg gave me a rude reality check the other day when he suggested I move the camper next door and live in it. I thought, "What? Live in the bloody camper?" Mind you, it is winter. But I thought about things like cooking, and showers, and toilets and all the things I'd miss about living in a house. I'm hoping those things won't matter on the Odyssey; that they'll be compensated by the sheer adventure of living in exotic locations close to the beach or the forest or whatever. I mean Averil's backyard is a helluva long way short of being exotic. Hehe. The other prob at the mo is I don't have a flat tray ute, which would mean the camper would be on stilts.

Anyway, I ain't going anywhere until the time is right, and I've got all the gear I need. I spoke to a neighbor yesterday who's moving a few blocks away. She was bitching about having to dispose of all the crap accumulated over the past 8 years, and having to inform the power company, the post office, the phone company, Centerlink, and god knows who else about the move. Tell me about it. Been there, done that. And I'm not looking forward to having to do it again... although it will be simpler this time. It's the accumulated crap I'm mostly worried about... heaps of stuff  I can't take with me.

Now there's an interesting sentence...'heaps of things I can't take with me'. I just realized that's not confined to physical things... it also relates to other aspects of my life. You've heard of people walking out the front door leaving everything behind, right? I suppose that's more or less what it will be like. A clean break. Goodbye previous life.

One aspect of my "new life" I'm rather curious about is using the porta potti for the first time, hehe. It'll be quite an event, I'm sure. And you can rest assured I'll write about it. No pics, though. On the other hand, maybe I've got it wrong. Maybe the real event will be emptying the thing for the first time.

The Australian government has just been successful in winning the court challenge for tobacco plain packaging against which tobacco companies fought tooth and nail, citing rights infringement of corporate logos and trademarks. However, the court ruled in favor of the government. So may I take this opportunity to congratulate the Australian government for, once again, protecting the great unwashed and ignorant masses from tripping over their own feet in making decisions about their own lives. It's comforting to know that despite our stupidity and inability to make sensible choices, we have a government willing to wrap us in cotton wool to protect us from evil. That way, they don't need to make tobacco illegal. Uh... yeah.

If I were a tobacco company, I would make available cigarette tins/containers and tobacco pouches labeled with their familiar logo/s minus any mention of tobacco or "smoking". That way, the plain packaging could be discarded and the contents placed in the appropriate container by the consumer.

When I was up the road today, I met a bearded guy about my age with a heavy foreign accent, so I asked him what his country of origin was. He said he was a gypsy. "There are gypsies from Romania, Russia, Germany... all over the place. So I don't have a country of origin." When I got home, I did a Google...

Gyp·sy also Gip·sy  (jps)
n. pl. Gyp·sies also Gip·sies
1. A member of a people that arrived in Europe in migrations from northern India around the 14th century, now also living in North America and Australia. Many Gypsy groups have preserved elements of their traditional culture, including an itinerant existence and the Romany language.
2. See Romany.
3. gypsy One inclined to a nomadic, unconventional way of life.

Ooer! So once I'm on the Odyssey, I'll be a gypsy! Sounds interesting actually... a gypsy. I rather like that label... it sounds romantic and mysterious, like someone who reads tarot cards and tells fortunes. Hehe.

Anyway, I spent a few hours in town and it's late, so I better vamoose. Gary

August 14, 2012. Off to the dentist in a few minutes. When I'm laying back in the chair, I'll ask if the roof slides back. I have a feeling I might be getting a view of Taree from about a thousand feet.

BACK! Well, that was a non event. Their computer is down, which apparently brings everything else to a grinding halt. One of the dentists, in his white coat, was fiddling around under the reception desk trying to fix the wires or something. He was on his knees and for a while there I thought he was a very short person. Anyway, they had a waiting room full of people so they sent me home. They'll phone later when they can fit me in.

Meanwhile, TX Greg sent this pic of the Spitfire/Mustang battle. I'm beginning to know how Snoopy felt, hehe.....

On the news last night, I watched a report from London about how they planned the Olympic site to be useful after the event, with sporting facilities, housing, parks and gardens in one of the most neglected areas of the city, the east end. They got the idea from Sydney. Our main Olympic infrastructure was built at Homebush Bay, which was a swampy dumping ground for the city's waste. It was also a toxic industrial area. So we cleaned it up, re-established the wetlands with gardens, parks and lakes, built the stadium and other facilities, a village for all the athletes and their entourage, and whaddaya know, it's now one of the most desirable areas of Sydney in which to live. And the stadium is still used for major sporting events. I remember it from the days when the clean up had just begun, and it was a mess.

For many decades, the banks of the Parramatta River, stretching from Sydney to the western satellite city of Parramatta (the geographic heart of the greater metropolitan area) was a 20-mile stretch of hideous industrial chaos, with ramshackle factories dumping their crap into the river. It's only in fairly recent times that the pollution has been eradicated, the banks restored to their former natural state, and the river revitalized as an attractive thoroughfare between the two major centers, with regular ferries helping to ease road congestion. Parramatta was actually the site of the first Government House back in the early 1800s. The area around Parramatta, with its abundant fertile land, became the food bowl for the entire settlement.

Interestingly, the east end of London is still the site of the working foundry that made Big Ben's bell as well as the Liberty Bell.

And how did the world's press see London's Olympic Games? Most were complimentary... only Turkey's Aksam and China's People's Daily got their knickers in a knot.

Another shooting in the US, this time in Texas near the A&M University. A policeman serving an eviction notice was shot when the suspect opened fire. A civilian was also killed and several others wounded. Guns for protection, huh? Yeah, right.

Oregon Richie will be interested in this article from the Beeb: The Merseyside Jaguar Land Rover plant has moved to 24-hour production, with the introduction of an extra shift. The car maker has created another 1,000 jobs at its site in Halewood so it can meet demand for its Evoque and Freelander models.

Speaking of which, I've been perusing used 4WD Utes just to see what's out there. There's no shortage, that's for sure, with quite a few bargains. 

NC Art has also been cruising the Web: Oh well, the things I do out of curiosity to find out what goes on in the world. The porn industry is one helluva big money act. I saw figures once that blew me away. Bigger than Microsoft and Apple combined at one time. And I spent my life as a damned printer when I could have learned a lucrative trade. No interest in the performing part, but managing director or some executive spot where the real money is collected. 

Of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these, It might have been.
from Maud Muller 
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Well, you know what they say, money is not everything. Besides, what we do in life is what we'll be remembered for.

As kids, we always got a thrill out of doing the things we weren't supposed to, like rolling dog droppings in newspaper and putting them in people's letter boxes. Hehe. Or stealing Farmer Brown's watermelons. Porn is much the same. It's main attraction is that it's "naughty"... the forbidden fruit... taboo. But if Farmer Brown said you could have all the watermelons you wanted, and more, the thrill of sneaking through his fence and making off with one without getting your buns peppered with gunshot would disappear.

When porn became readily and easily accessible on the web, I was a regular viewer. But not for long. Now I agree with Dylan Moran; "Male genitals look like something hanging out of a shark's mouth." "A set of bagpipes with hair around it." Hehe. Watching porn means watching the same old, same old plot over and over and over again. How many watermelons can you steal without getting BORED SHITLESS? 

I'm convinced now that the attraction/stimulation humans feel when faced with the sight of naked person is identical to the attraction felt by one hippopotamus at the sight of another. It has absolutely nothing to do with aesthetics. Nothing. 

There's a bit of drama going on here. Sue was in the bathroom tarting up the face. Sure enough, she was getting ready to go shopping. Yeah, right. In her mental and physical condition? So I woke Lindsay. He's ugly as shit anyway but even worse when he's half asleep. So, without even getting out of bed,  he spoke to his wife and told her if she went up the road, he wouldn't be here when she got back. It made no difference to Sue, as I knew it wouldn't, and she continued to get ready. So I locked the security door with a key, which means you need a key to open it. Lindsay heard the noise and came into the hall to see what was happening. Then he and I had words. I told him if he let Sue go out by herself, I'd contact the authorities. I also reminded him of his reaction when I first arrived home after cancer surgery. "You couldn't wait to get me off the carer pension and on to the age pension. Well, you succeeded. Sue is now your responsibility." He argued that he'd been looking after Sue for 30 years. Yeah, right. "I was there, remember? I saw how you were looking after her." So then he told me to mind my own business "for a change". What a joke. Anyway, he settled down, told Sue he would take her shopping tomorrow in the wheelchair, and went back to bed. It's not even 2pm in the afternoon yet.

Do I need this kinda shit in my life? No.

The dentist phoned... Thursday August 30, 9am. The day after I hit 68.

It's after 3pm now, and Sue's up to her earlier tricks. She went to the bathroom again so I locked the security door again. She just tried to sneak out while she thought no one was looking. "You're not going anywhere," I said, and she meekly complied. Quite frankly, I don't like the woman. Never have. She has a devious nature, and I've always been aware of that. You have to watch her every move, and anticipate what she's up to. Lindsay wouldn't have a clue. And why does she want to go to the shops? Booze. Well, it ain't gonna happen. And if those two don't settle down again, I'm outta here.

Mind you, moving would mean putting the Odyssey on hold indefinitely. But I'm not ready yet to go galavanting around Oz. For starters, I'm still recovering from the cancer treatment, and there are several dental appointments to think about, plus a new set of dentures.

Why should I move and not them? Because they have the same mentality as the guy who shot the policeman serving an eviction notice in Texas. They truly believe they have some kind of moral right to be here.

I can relax now. The front door's locked, the heater's on, and the drama has subsided at least for the present. I was hoping to ease myself out of this situation quietly. Just pack the camper and go. Byeeeee! Hopefully, that will still be the case.

When I look back at how this ridiculous scenario began over a dozen years ago, I was a minute away from being homeless, jobless and on the streets. Shacking up with L&S saved the day at the last possible moment. Then the carer opportunity came along. At the time, it seemed like the logical path to follow. I'd been deserted by everyone else. It was my only option. So I'm not sure whether I should be thankful or resentful. However, I do know that the time to move on is rapidly approaching. Enough is enough. I want my life back.

The bigger picture, of course, goes back further than meeting L&S. The road downhill began when I got involved with Mr Silver Tongue and his miserable cohorts, and handed over the reins so that I was no longer in control of my life. I remember those times so vividly; how he methodically and surreptitiously eroded my independence and confidence over a period until I was an empty shell. Then came the buzzards to pick at any remaining tidbits until my bleached bones glistened in the desert sun.

So, dear Breth, if this kid can do a Lazarus in his late sixties, that's gotta be worth a brownie point, yeah? That's the thing that drives me, ya know... proving to myself first, and my critics second, that I ain't finished yet; that there's still fire in the belly; and that I will live to rise from the ashes (with a perfectly cooked sausage).

Mr Silver Tongue believed that it's 'who you know' that elevates you to a position of power. He started with me, and then moved on to the people I knew, and then to the people they knew, until he elevated himself to the point where he was able to exercise power and influence. Then he proceeded to trash the people he used to get there. But, unbeknown to himself during that elevation period, he remained a person without substance, a hollow silver tongue without talent. And when it all came crashing down like a house of cards, he was exposed for what he was... a nobody. BTW, he's on Linked In now, still using the names of famous people to give himself credibility. What a loser.

Meanwhile, I remained a person of substance despite having been convinced otherwise. It was only a matter of time before the Codys, Steves, Richies, Gregs, Arts, Jaces and others of this world would make me realize that I've still got it. Took a while but, hey, it was worth it. What's the saying? You can't keep a good man down. I dunno about good but... you know what I mean.

Anyway, it's late. I've been on the phone to the power company trying to figure out why the hot water system is not working properly. Got that sorted so now it's din dins time. Actually, when I said to the girl on the phone that it was getting close to din dins time, she didn't know what I was talking about. So I asked her if she ever had a dog hehe. "It was a long time ago when I was very young." "And who did the feeding?" "My mother." "There ya go... no wonder you don't know what din dins means. What about wee wees and walkies?" Anyway, she appreciated being informed about doggy talk and said it'll come in handy should she ever own one hehe. Yes, folks, I'm a veritable fountain of vital information. Gary

August 13, 2012. And that's it for the Olympics until Rio in 2016. But what a games it was in London. US 46/104, China 38/87, UK 29/65, Russia 24/82, Korea 13/28. Oz managed a place in the top 10 - just - which was quite a feat, 7/35. You can check the full medal table and list of countries at the Beeb.

Oregon Richie's lady has a crush on Britain's diver Tom Daley hehe. By the same token, Richie also thinks Mr Daley has a nice butt. And I ain't sayin' nuthin'.

However, like all of us, young Mr Daley has his less flattering moments...

When I checked mail this morning, there was Rys (or something like that) with a $25 donation. How encouraging! I don't even know Rys! Well, when I checked, Rys turned out to be one of those on line gambling casinos hehe, trying to tempt me to play slot machines or whatever it is they do. So that email got the flick right away. Oh well...

TX Greg suggested I save rent by moving the camper over to Averil's yard and setting up home there. Not a bad idea, except Averil wouldn't go for it. That would be sub letting, and I doubt the landlady would be too pleased about it, not to mention the agent. So there goes Greg in his Mustang again (I fly a Spitfire), leaving a trail of smoke behind as he plummets towards earth. However, not having to pay my share of the rent for six months ($2500) is tempting. On the Odyssey, there will be camp site fees in some places but I expect to be able to live rent free most of the time. In the interim, ladies and genitals, I'm not quite recovered from the Big C yet.

Yesterday, I mentioned embedding the vid of Sydney on The C Word page. Just now, I did the same with the journal pages, including the Taree and Steam loco vids on Journal 0057. Take a look to see how it works.

Back when NC Art was a young airman flying USAF bombers across the English Channel during WW2, he said to a mate of his, "Y'know, Wilbur, one of these days there'll be a US Army general, and that general will be a woman. And not only will that general be a woman, she'll be gay." Art's mate smiled and said, "Well, that figures, Art. I'd be damn gay too!" Hehe. No, I'm lying. But those times Dylan sang about are certainly a-changin' cos now there is indeed a female Brigadier General in the US who is openly gay.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Well, the Poms did a sterling job of staging the XXX Olympiad, and all credit to them. There were a few wobbly bits at first, but they got smoothed out soon enough despite Romney's doubts. Their ranking of 3rd behind superpowers the US and China is highly commendable as well. A week and a bit ago they were still looking for their first gold medal! I've only seen stills of the highlights of the closing ceremony but it certainly looks spectacular. If there's any doubt about GB's influence on the world over past centuries, let it be dispelled. They are an undeniable force to be reckoned with. Think back half a century to the chaos and devestation of the London Blitz, and then fast-forward the clock to today. The Brits certainly are a resilient lot.

Speaking of resilience, I have a 9am appointment with the dentist tomorrow for fillings. Do I hear a drill? I think I do. Do I see a needle? Oh, god, don't mention needles. I hate the things, especially poking around in one's oral cavity. And don't say it could be worse... there are no teeth there anyway (at least not to my knowledge). Unsurprisingly, I'm not looking forward to it.

Did you know I've got ginger nuts? Well, I have. A whole packet. And I'm just about to dunk 2 in my cuppa tea. I took a nap on the couch, one of those speed naps where you wake in about half an hour feeling like you've been dragged through a hedge. And that's when nothing but a cuppa will do. 

Meanwhile, can't complain about the weather. I tried, and it didn't work. Nah... it's actually not a bad day, sunny and bright... a bit cool but not too bad in the sun. Which I'm not. Besides, it's gonna disappear shortly so I'll have to flick the magic switch. Either that or set fire to the house, which is probably not such a great idea.

Speaking of being cool... here's two and a bit minutes of Dylan Moran.

Well, the heater's been on for a while and Mondee's beginning to fade. Pretty soon I'll be glued to the telly watching my fav shows after having demolished a curry pie washed down with potato and leek soup. What an exciting life I lead. No wonder everyone else is jealous. What are they going to say when I'm holding a sausage-impregnated stick over a campfire in the middle of the Nullarbor? They'll be livid. Positively green with envy. Sticking pins in a doll wearing a bush hat.

Now here's an idea. I could make a How To video about building a campfire, and then use real footage of a huge out-of-control bushfire with helicopters and fire trucks and people running around with hoses. And at the end, I could stagger from the blackened forest, covered in soot, holding a perfectly cooked sausage. That'd be cool, and would no doubt attract quite a few viewers on Youtube.  I'm fulla brilliant ideas. It's only a matter of time before people like Speilberg are pestering me for my autograph.

It's gonna happen ya know. I'll be out there in the middle of nowhere wondering what I can do to pass the time. Hehe. As a kid, I used to get up to the most reprehensible mischief and I can sense that I'm about to re-enter that phase of my life. I mean, someone's gotta liven up the party, right?

Oregon Richie emailed photos taken of him and his bride-to-be in their senior year at college. Childhood sweethearts in those oval frames favored by photo studios of the period. He's looking directly at the camera whereas she's looking to one side in one of those "candid" shots. "Oh, is someone taking my picture? I had no idea!" But the thing I noticed most was Richie's tie. The knot is perfectly centered. I have a thing about that. When I see politicians interviewed on telly with their tie not straight, or the knot off center, or too small for the gap between the collar peaks, I get distracted and upset. Not that I like ties. No, I don't. I think they're an unnecessary and silly relic from the absurd dress codes of centuries past. Mind you, when I was about that age, I used to wear an open neck shirt and a cravat. Hehe. At the time I thought I looked very suave. Oh, dear...

But getting back to politicians and ties, those guys are so paranoid about presenting an image of respectability and conservatism, they always wear charcoal or blue suits of the most uninspiring kind. The savior, as far as they are concerned, is the tie. It allows them a splash of color just to prove that they're not totally boring. Some get quite adventurous and wear pinks, greens, reds, florals, and even paisleys. But it's only a splash, remember... nothing too demonstrative. However, it's the ones who not only wear dull suits but also dull ties that you gotta watch. Those guys have had a personality bypass.

And Obama? He's all for rolled up sleeves and open necks. "Yes, we can!"

Well, telly's on and it's time to exit stage left. Gary

August 12, 2012. Well, Hungary and Italy won a gold each overnight and relegated Oz back to 10th. But it didn't stop Oz from winning 4 more medals, bringing its total to 7/35. US 44/102, China 38/87, UK 28/62, Russia 21/78, Korea 13/27. NZ has won another gold, taking its total to 5/13, and chasing its rivals across the Tasman. Anyway, considering our embarrassingly poor start, I'm quite proud of Team Oz.

I suspect if the US wasn't doing so incredibly well, Romney would have blamed the Obama administration for damaging America's self esteem and confidence hehe. Too bad, Mitt. You'll have to find another excuse. Meanwhile, I won't be surprised if the US Olympic result benefits the Dems.

Which reminds me, on Planet America the other night, they showed footage of Obama's latest speech in which he said, "There's not a country in the world that wouldn't gladly trade places with America." Hehe, that made me laugh. As soon as John Barron returned to camera, he said, "With the possible exception of Australia." Yep, no way Oz would trade places with anyone. And I'm sure many other countries feel the same way. Obviously, Obama was focused on his home audience when he made that remark. The Yanks DO like to think of themselves as the envy of the world ya know. Which is fair enough. I guess we do too.

I wrote TX Greg last night asking if he knew how to embed Youtube vids on an HTML page, as in an Aussie Odyssey page. Turns out it's pretty simple (which explains why I couldn't figure it out). So I tried it on The C Word and it worked. So from here on, rather than link to Youtube, I'll embed the screen on the AO page (which links to Youtube anyway. It just means you watch the vid while remaining on AO).

Ooooooowaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! TX Greg asked if I got the meaning of his reference yesterday to "Yankee Dime", so I just checked Google. And now I'm blushing. A quick, innocent kiss. A peck. A child like term used by/for children in the Southern United States.

Which brings me to the Pledge. First off, I gotta say that if you'd rather ignore it because of your current fiscal status or for whatever other reason, then ignore it. There's no pressure. The thing is gonna be there on AO until early next year anyway so don't feel compelled to rush in, or even participate period. 

BTW, not sure if I've ever mentioned this but I went into hock for about $2000 in order to buy the camper, and I'm still paying that back. That's one reason I'm not able to save as much as I'd like at the mo.

However, NC Art suggests I get a raffle license. Nah, that's all too hard. He also suggested the prize for the raffle could be my current Ute. Hello? That thing is worth a couple of grand hehe. No way, Jose. I need to trade that on the new Ute, or use the proceeds for another solar panel and a couple of deep cycle batteries. Also, if someone from overseas wins it, how the hell would I ship it? Nah. Not a good idea, Art. BUT, I could manage something like autographed copies of all my books in print. They would be the only autographed copies in existence, and might be worth a fortune if I ever become famous. Or fall off the perch.

Art also has this take on exploration pre-dating our current efforts:Capts. Jimmy Cook and Christoph Colombo never worried about germs. Wherever they made landfall the results were great swaths of natives wiped out by Smallpox, measles, whooping cough, common colds and venereal diseases. They may have wondered what was happening, but were innocent on grounds of ignorance. But hey, they made Christians out of the aborigines while stealing their gold!

Yep, they had different standards back then, mainly due to ignorance but also due to a belief in their own superiority. Oz, after all, was established as a penal colony... a dumping ground for Britain's human trash. Check us out now, baby.

Here's a fascinating account of a small group of protestors breaking in to a high security nuclear facility in the US, posted on Justin's blog. Are we talking about an 82 y/o nun here? Yessum, we are. Hehe.

Well, for the past hour or so I've been working on the Pledge page and I think I've got it right. Lemme know what you think. There's a link below the Pledge blurb to the current total of pledges page. Also, lemme know what you think about the signed copies of all my books idea for a prize. BTW, I've dedicated my other email addy gary at aussieodyssey as the addy to use for pledges. So don't be alarmed or confused, okay.

I see on the Beeb that Paul Ryan has been chosen by Romney as his running mate in the US presidential campaign. The pair will be touring various states they need to win in order to be successful, including North Carolina. I can see Art out there waving the Stars and Stripes. Ryan is a practicing Catholic and according to the Beeb Was voted prom king and "Biggest Brown Noser" at school, is a fitness fanatic, and has expressed fondness for catching catfish with his bare hands.

Did you see this video of a bloke in Western Oz being rescued after spending 20 hours treading water and floating on his back after a boating accident? As the rescue was being attempted hammerhead sharks were circling. Sheesh. He won't forget that experience in a hurry.

Bob Dylan sang about the times they are a-changin' back in the '60s but even he couldn't have anticipated the changes that are happening today. Justin posted this NY Times story on his blog about married gay couples being pressured by parents and friends into filling the cradles.

Heater's on! The sun's been popping in and out all day, punctuated by rain. Not the best of days. But I noted last night that the wind damage in Sydney during the past day or two was pretty bad with trees and power lines down, sizeable boats dumped on shore, roofs torn from various buildings and thousands of calls made to emergency services. At least lil ole Taree managed to avoid that kinda drama.

Despite the dreary weather, I decided it was worth a trip up the road to get some of that La Zuppa soup I was so impressed with when I was last at Port Macquarie. This time I got a spinach and chick pea variety, plus a creamy chicken and veg. I'll try the spinach one tonight. They're not all that cheap compared to other brands but just under $4 a pop for good quality is a pretty good deal I reckon.

On Gardening Australia last night, they featured stories about immigrants and how they've influenced Oz cuisine and culture, starting with the Italians back in the '50s and their penchant for fresh fruit and vegies grown in their own backyards or in market gardens. "When we first arrived, the only olive oil was in little brown bottles from the chemist!" Hehe. The Greeks were the same, and later came the Vietnamese whose food I adore. Now we have Iraqis, Iranians, Afghans, Palestinians, Lebanese (already well established), Burmese, Malaysians and god knows who else. Interesting to note that there's a thriving olive oil industry in Tasmania (and even truffles). Oz coffee is pretty good too, and tea. So Oz owes a lot to those people who have made this country so cosmopolitan and interesting.

Another Satdee night program I enjoy is Landline, which is a compilation of stories about life on the land in Oz. One was about the longest fence in the world, the famous Dingo Fence that stretches almost 3,500 miles from eastern Queensland to the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia. It was built in the 1880s and is still regularly inspected and repaired to stop dingos and other pests from attacking flocks of sheep. I think it began as an attempt to contain the spread of rabbits but that failed. There weren't all that many sheep back in the 1880s, at least not roaming the outback, so the fence found another use with the spread of farming over the years. The story interviewed a couple of the blokes who spend their time maintaining the fence over long distances. One bloke said it can be a pretty lonely life for some of the workers but he was okay because he lived in a town of 7 people hehe. "So at least I can go home on the weekend and have someone to talk to." His only companion on the job is a Jack Russel/Terrier mix who has a talent for spotting snakes and warning his master. The camera showed one coiled up at the top of a fence post.

Yes, all very interesting and the type of stories I'm looking forward to sampling myself on the Odyssey. But for now, it's telly time and La Zuppa time. Meanwhile, keep your legs together and don't talk to any strange men (except me). Gary

August 11, 2012. Goodness me! Oz is certainly making the most of the final days of the London Olympics. One more gold to bring our total to 7/31 and 9th place, surpassing Italy who's now in 10th. That's pretty cool, and I'm confident that the team will return home to a rousing welcome. US 41/94, China 37/81, UK 25/57, Russia 15/63, Korea 13/27. I see that NZ has 4 gold now.

Soley? As NC Art says, it sounds alright but it's spelled solely. Oops! So there's another one I've been misspelling without realizing it. As Christmas approached during my sojourn in Alaska, the local radio station began airing public service spots, one of which asked for donations to a fund for the poor of the town. The script mentioned the “indigent” people, which the announcer invariably pronounced “indignant.” After three nights of hearing this I called the station’s attention to this faux pas. The manager assured me that they knew about it, but left the guy alone because it got lots more attention than it would if it were read straight. Hm.
    Yep, strange things happen when English speakers put on airs with imported Frenchy sounding words. Trouble is, the French don’t spell what they say or say what they spell. And we ain’t so hot in that department either. Take the word ‘soley’ as you spelled it. Sounds ok, but the bugger is spelt solely. He he.

I probably made lots of faux pas during my radio career but the one I remember most is mispronouncing the name of a movie way back in '69. I said Tarren-chewla instead of Tarantula. Oh dear. Later, in the mid '70s I read a news item and mispronounced Arkansas.

Art also has this to say about fund raising: Wondering about a lottery to fund your walkabout, aka Odyssey. Don’t know what the prize might be but you could think of something. A football player I tutored at the University of Georgia decided to raffle his commemorative ring won in a post season bowl game. When the time came to award the ring he decided the proceeds were not sufficient and called the lottery off. And he refused to rebate the money, reasoning that lotteries were gambling, so everyone lost but him. His name was Garland “Bulldog” Williams and he was much too big and mean to dispute with.

Cody would have raffled a pair of his unwashed Speedos hehe. (Or worse, but I ain't going there...) However, you need a license in Oz to run a raffle. When I opened a donations account with PayPal, they did a check on me to see if I was a crook before allowing me to go ahead with the account. I'm not a registered charity. I wonder if buskers need a license to busk?

And here's Jimm's comment: Gary, speaking of ads and donations, how about an ad for Green Room? Placed on the home page, high enough to be seen without scrolling down.

Thought about that, Jimm but Green Room has nothing in common with AO. It's a bit confusing. Jimm also has a few probs with certain words: Words I have trouble with: writing checks with ninty (ninety) amounts; all my high school papers and essays were written using the word greatful (grateful), and I enjoy people who are spontanuos (spontaneous). And then there are 'g words' like in giraffe where I pronounced it with a hard g (as in girl). 

And there I was thinking that a 'hard g' had something to do with me waking in the mornings. Note: only one 'n' in waking. And your 'ninty' reminds me of 'fourty' which is spelled 'forty'. I also remember some Ukrainian friends who were confused with 1st, 2nd and 3rd when everything else ended in 'th'. So they settled for 1th, 2th and 3th. Maintain and maintenance is another confusing one, as are lots of ables and ibles hehe. No wonder Francois gets irritated by English.

And here's what TX Greg had to say about being shot down in flames: hahahahaha, Well as hot as it's been here I already feel like I'm in flames!  I should pledge you a yankee dime :)

So here I am on a winter Satdee morning. The forecast is for more wind and rain but it's not looking too bad at the mo, despite the cold. Wind damage in Sydney yesterday was pretty bad with tens of thousands of homes losing power caused by downed trees and power lines. They said the damage was in small pockets scattered around the city, which made the logistics of attending to repairs laborious and difficult.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

Dorothea Mackellar

Last night on telly there was a story of a bloke with cancer similar to mine, who underwent radiation and whatever. He also had a stomach tube. But he could speak. He was interviewed on radio and TV. He had a Facebook page with lots of supporters who sent gifts. Hello? I breezed through the whole damn thing with hardly a mention, as if it were just another ho hum episode of life. You'll be right, Gaz. Stiff upper lip and all that. Seems I missed my 15 minutes of fame.

I might write a page about the cancer thing, though... just for the record... and post it on AO.

Might? No might about it, I just spent a couple of hours putting it together from pastes of journals and waffles plus a bit of new commentary and pics. The link is on the main home page... and I moved Art's Art link up a few rungs. I called it The C Word.

Sifting through all that cancer stuff I wrote revived a few graphic memories I'd chosen to archive somewhere in the dim, dark reaches of my mind. It was certainly not a pleasant experience, or one I'd wish to repeat. But it happened and I suppose it deserves a prominent place on AO as part of the "journey".

So then I made a hot dog for lunch and took a bite when I realized I hadn't put my bloody front teeth in. Hehe. I think I'd better forget about hot dogs for a while... or anything else that needs a fair amount of chewing. It's all too hard. So I've settled for a bowl of minestrone instead.

I see that Romney will announce his running mate shortly. Sarah? No. And Clint Eastwood has endorsed Romney. Make my day. Bleh.

The Mars Rover story is interesting. A spokesman last night on telly (Planet America) was talking about a future manned mission which will probably last 3 years, so the current Rover mission will be evaluating the possibility of astronauts being able to grow their own food, use Mars water, etc. He also spoke about the current Rover undergoing a thorough cleanliness and contamination test before its launch to ensure no living organism from Earth was on board. An important part of the mission is to find evidence of life on Mars, so they don't want to be finding anything that might have been imported from elsewhere. I wonder what Jimmy Cook and Christopher Columbus would have to say about all this space exploration business.

It's only 60 years ago when I was a kid that Hollywood was making sci fi movies about aliens from Mars. And now we're seeing live pictures transmitted directly from the surface of the red planet. Pretty amazing stuff, what?

Heater's on! And it's about bloody time. Each night when I watch the weather on telly, I see Broome with a min in the mid teens and a top of about 30C. Mieke, my Red Bubble mate, gave Melbourne the flick to go live in Derby, not far from Broome in Kimberley country. I often wonder where I'll settle once the Odyssey gets a bit too much for me. Derby or Broome? Maybe. I really don't know. There are thousands of places that could take my fancy, including Sydney. So, at the mo, it's a complete mystery.

In 2 days, my monthly broadband usage will be due. Seems Optus has fixed the prob here at the Taree tower because I've not had any connection probs and my usage so far is only 39% of 5GB. 

Satdee night so the TV schedule is different but it's not too bad. Anyway, time to think about vittles and settling into the easy chair for a while. Seeyaz Sundee. Gary

August 10, 2012. I happened to spot this photo of Art in the North Carolina Bugle.

Meanwhile, the London Olympics continues to be an exciting tussle, especially between the top two contenders for Numero Uno. The US has now grabbed the lead in both outright gold and total medals, US 39/90, China 37/80, UK 25/52, Russia 12/56, Korea 12/25. The UK has done exceptionally well as host country. And where's Oz? Doing quite nicely, thank you, with 6/29 and 10th place. So now we're in the top 10. Have the Kiwis stopped dissing us yet? I think so. Hehe. South Korea surprised me with its performance. They'll be pleased with themselves for sure.

Speaking of performance, the ABC's (Oz) main reporter in London is one of those people who can't get his brain around 'per'. He pronounces performance as preformance. I knew a bloke who couldn't say spaghetti. He said pasghetti. One word commonly mispronounced, even by highly educated peeps, that surprises me is prerogative. They say perogative. I had a problem with ridiculous for many years, misspelling it as rediculous. And truely instead of truly. Oh well, dozen madder.

As to 'common', NC Art writes: Common, commonplace, familiar to all, commonality, commonly understood meanings or rituals. Sure, the common man was once considered lower in most things; manners, morals, and so on. But that was royalty’s opinion, else how could some blokes feel superior and oh so smugly self-important? Ain’t democracy the great leveler wherein no man must kneel, doff the hat or tug his forelock in the presence of his betters? So, the House of Commons consists of citizens who ain’t got much claim to be a Lord by inheritance, and many commoners are richer than the dukes and earls and barons, what? 
    So now in good old democratic America the most money gets the most deference—a new aristocracy which deigns not to notice the lower classes or their needs. Seems like it’s going thataway, pardner!

Yes, there was a discussion on telly last night by a Brit author who thinks it's time the capitalist system readjusted itself to elevate the poor and middle classes to a more acceptable level of sharing the wealth. He said the capitalist system was working quite well during the '50s and '60s but has gotten out of tune in more recent years. Lopsided.

Which reminds me of something Oregon Richie wrote: Yes, the political scene.  Obama drama and "Romneyhood", which is a pretty funny way... albeit quite true.... to put it.  No further comment. Oh, wait... yes- just one.  Some caustic folks 'round here say that of November 2nd... "America is not going to RENIG".  Pathetic comment.  Here's mine for November 3rd:  "I'm black; I'm back... deal with it !"

There have been a few responses to the Pledge thing so far. Steve W thinks it's a great idea. TX Greg thinks there were too many numbers to absorb first thing in the morning, and wants to think about it "some". My inclination is that it's worth a shot. If it bombs, I'll end up with egg on my face but it won't be the first time. Egg schmegg. If I can handle the cancer drama, I can handle anything.

I'll tell you what did irk me for a long time. "Gary's got a million ideas but none of them work." That's an exaggeration, of course, but even if it were true, so what? Should I stop trying? Me no theeeng so. Remember that swimmer Eric Moussambani at the 2000 Olympics? What a classic moment that was.

Blowing like crap outside, and cold. Bleh. And it won't improve until after the weekend.

Ohio Jace has been glued to the telly, watching as much of the Olympics as poss but misses his "Olympics buddy"... his great nephew who's still recovering from the motocross bike accident. And he sends his best wishes to Oregon Richie and his bride to be. They'll be marrried September 23. Jace reckons the Olympics highlight for him was when Kirani James (Grenada) asked to exchange bibs with Oscar Pistorius (South Africa) in the 400-meter semifinal. Kirani won the heat and Oscar finished last.

Watched an interesting story on telly last night about a Chinese woman who runs a restaurant in Oz. She has very fixed ideas about how food should be eaten and not wasted. Her restaurant has strict rules such as food should be chewed 30 times before swallowing because the chewing digests the food before it enters the body. Nothing should be wasted, so patrons are instructed to bring a container for leftovers. Food should be shared around the table, a little bit of every dish for each person. Diners who don't adhere to the rules are asked to leave and never to return. Two customers (gay, as it happened) said the restaurateur was strict, but they loved her food and dined there every night. However, it seems that there are too few people who are willing to abide by the rules and as a consequence, the restaurant will close because it can't make a profit. Nonetheless, the restaurateur refuses to compromise.

And there's another word peeps get confused about... restaurateur. They pronounce/spell it as restauranteur. Oh, and another one I've noticed in emails and blog comments... people often use loose when they mean lose. Don't lose your cool if your shoelaces are loose. Yeah?

And what has been the international press reaction to the London Olympics, and the Brits themselves? Check this article on the BBC.

TX Greg has had time to think about the Pledge thing: Ok, been thinking on this pledge thing all day and keep coming back to what we've tried before, sponsors and ads. But we need to look at this from a different approach. You got your regular friends that keep up with you on the waffle, but don't forget you have a bigger audience of tourists. You know your site get hits from peeps looking to travel to Oz. I seen ads all the time on TV here about visiting Australia. So why not think a little outside of the box and try selling some ad space on the home page that reflects tourism. The big one that pops into mind would be Qantas. Then there's cheaptickets / orbitz / priceline etc. Even car hire companies and hotels. Geez I'd even take a condom ad to get some revenue in, hehe. But really you know from all the years at the radio station that ads are what kept a paycheck in your pocket and the station on the air.

Would be a little sneaky, but you could create some fake ads on the homepage just to make others jealous of that ad spot, hehe.
"Dear Qantas, We are looking to replace the current ad spot held by cheaptickets and wondering if you company would like to place a bid." hahaha You know that could work!!! 

Again just thoughts, use what you can and throw the rest out the window :)

Yep, ads and/or sponsorships would be great, provided they didn't overwhelm the site and intrude too much. But at this point, pre-Odyssey, what do I have to sell? A few bits of Sydney, The Manning Valley, and Port Macquarie? Fact is, there won't be anything of substance to sell until I'm on the road. Even then, it'll take a while to build up a portfolio of places I've visited and stories I've told. The proof of the tasting will be in the pudding and, right now, there ain't no pudding.

Soooooooo, I think I'll go ahead with the Pledge thing. Sponsorship can wait for another day. In fact, some time ago I wrote to a number of companies seeking sponsorship and they all declined. I have a feeling people I know personally might be somewhat reticent to pledge a donation because if all they can afford is 10 bucks or something they'll worry that I'll think they're a cheapskate hehe. Okay, so what if I think they're a cheapskate? Bloody hell, if I get enough cheapskates I'll be laughing! Besides, a person's financial situation is no business of mine. As far as I'm concerned, 10 bucks is as good as a hundred and I'm not about to judge anyone's capacity to part with whatever they can afford. The point is, if I relied soley on my online friends for pledges, I wouldn't be going anywhere. I'm hoping there are lot of other people out there who want me to travel Oz so they can read about my adventures for the next whatever years and check out all the pics and movies. Seems to me 10 or 20 bucks is a pretty cheap ticket to a show that runs THAT bloody long!

Okay, so the show's gonna be free anyway. But that depends on whether or not THERE IS A SHOW!  Hehe. And donations will ensure that there is.

So I'll take the risk of getting egg on my face if the project bombs. There's no money involved, and won't be for about six months, so it's not like it's all gotta happen by next week. Meanwhile, I'll keep saving my pennies as well. In fact, if I can manage to save a grand or two, I'll pledge that! I've got about a grand already. Hmmmm.

But certainly down the track I'll be eager to seek sponsorship. As an age pensioner, I'm allowed to earn an extra $6500 per annum tax free. If I can make that from advertising revenue that would be sooooo cool! It would pay for expenses and a few extras. But like I said, I gotta get a few runs on the board first.

So there ya go, that's TX Greg shot down in flames. Who's next?

I'll work on the Pledge page over the weekend and get it right before I launch it.

I was just thinking about that bakery in Birdsville that bakes curry camel pies. I could do an ad for them along the lines of do your bit for the Oz environment and bite a camel. The bloody pests are roaming around the outback in their millions. They have no natural enemies, and they denude what little vegetation there is out there during the dry season, making it impossible for native species to survive. So don't leave Oz until you've bitten a Birdsville Curry Camel Pie!

Actually, most of the advertising would be targeted to people outside Oz who are thinking about traveling Down Under, or tourists already in Oz (hotels, car rental, resorts, etc).

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Itchy feet syndrome. Can't blame me, though. On the old About Me page I originally wrote, "Not long ago, I turned 63..." Hello? Pretty soon I'll be 68 and I haven't been anywhere yet (well, hardly anywhere).

Getting close to heater time and I can't wait. Cold weather ain't my cuppa, and I can hear the wind blowing outside. In the bathroom, I heard on the radio that gusts of up to 90kph have downed some powerlines in Sydney and left some homes without electrickity. Eeek! No heating, cooking or lighting in winter! Not good.

Planet America is on tonight, which is a show I enjoy. One American guest the other week (mayor of Pittsburgh) asked why John and Chas weren't syndicated in the US. He said it would be a huge hit over there. John Barron is the one on the right; a polished ABC Oz newsreader and commentator. Chas Licciardello, on the left, is a cheeky Aussie accented Italian (born here). Both guys have a deep interest in American history and politics. The thing I like about the show is that it's impartial. Moreover, the ABC is a publicly funded, independent broadcaster. No media barons calling the shots. AND NO ADS!

Funny innit... an ex ad man poo pooing ads. But when I was writing ads, I tried to make them as entertaining and/or as interesting as possible, as if they were part of the show. Sometimes I managed to make the ads even more entertaining than the show as witnessed by a giggle or comment from the on air announcer.

Anyway, dozen madder. The heater's on and it's time to bid thee farewell for another day. Gary

August 9, 2012. Well, lookie, lookie... another gold for Oz, which brings our tally to 5/26. We've left our run a bit late but better late than never I suppose, and 5 gold is certainly more respectable than the 1 we had a week ago. It's also reminding Aussies that we have more than just a bunch of swimmers in London.

Overnight: China 36/77, US 34/81, UK 22/48, Korea 12/25, Russia 11/52.

The sun is shining brightly again but there's a prob. Someone's dragged a big bunch of cloud between the sun and Taree, and it's bloody cold!

Last night I watched a program about a self-funded art show. They got the thing happening by public donation but instead of asking for donations per se, they set a target and then asked for pledges. When the pledges reached the target, they asked for the pledges to be honored. Boom, boom. The show is now on the road. So I thunk to myself, that's what's wrong with the Aussie Odyssey donation thingy. It's ad hoc. There's no target, nothing to aim for.

So then I thunk, what if I set a budget of $20,000. I could do with less, but 20K would buy a near new flat tray 4WD ute in top condition with money left over for a second solar panel, two deep cycle batteries, and a bunch of other stuff I need. Pledges would be made via email with no money sent. I'd publish a daily tally of pledges (no names) and when the target was reached, whammo, hello Odyssey. If the whole thing bombed because of a lack of response, then all pledges would become null and void and we'd all forget about it. 

On the other hand, say each pledge was worth $5 and you had a choice of buying 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or whatever. That would mean a target of 4000 pledges. My problem is, I'm not sure how many followers AO has. According to Webalyzer, AO gets over 500 visits daily, but 95% of those could be robots for all I know. Also, many visitors see an image or text on Google and follow the link to a part of the site that could have been created months or years ago, so they're not regular followers who visit the site every day.

If AO doesn't have enough regulars to make a target of 20K a feasible goal, then it's a pointless exercise. But if I lowered my sights and settled for something like $5000, that would be enough to get a "reasonable" flat tray ute (with the sale of my current ute) and at least get the show on the road. I can always launch another fund raiser for some other specific purpose at some future stage if need be. I believe that once the show is on the road, and things are happening, the increased activity will attract more regular visitors and a larger support base.

$5000 means 1000 pledges at $5 each. If the average purchase is 4 pledges, 250 would reach the target. And like I say, if the exercise bombs, no one loses anything because the pledges will become null and void.

So what do you think of that idea? Is it worth a shot? Savings at the mo are stalled. Once the bills are paid, there's not much left over to save, especially since I'm no longer a carer. Surviving on the age pension won't be a problem. Capital investment is the hurdle... although less of a hurdle now that I have the camper. My intention is to depart on the Odyssey in 2013 so the fund raiser will have about 5 or 6 months to achieve its goal. I eagerly await your comments, dear Breth. Give it shot or what?

Yesterday, I mentioned marriage and semantics which prompted NC Art to write: Truly the evolution of language is a stumbling block. Diplomats meet to construct a peace treaty but start a war because they couldn’t understand each other. So, if you would argue with me, we must first define our terms. Just so, gay no longer means light hearted and happy, and the new gay often finds himself wounded and unhappy. 
    For two centuries the Anglican Book of Common Prayer contained a prayer asking God to prevent us...just because it came from the Latin ‘to go before.’ And we said it without a quibble. Just so, vulgar today refers to rude, crude, uncouth talk or behavior. Originally it meant simply the language of the common man as opposed to that spoken by royalty, usually Latin or High English. Thus, the first bible in the common language was termed the Vulgate. The priests didn’t like it since it removed some of their power to interpret and instruct holy writ to suit the Church.
    The politicians are still perfecting the art of duobabble, but technobabblers and fiscababbblers are winning hands down. So never send to ask for whom the bell tolls. Unless you’re dead already. Apologies to John Donne.

And there's another one... common... the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. "G'day Boss who art in Heaven. Owyagoin, mate, no worries." These days a common person means socially inferior. I often wonder if the British parliament should change the name of the House of Commons. 

And here's something TX Greg sent. He says he can imagine me whizzing around Taree in this:

Interesting trying to figure out the bits used. The front is from a '70s Kombi, the windscreen looks like it might be the rear window of a Beetle, the side window I'm not sure about, the wing mirror is from a Beetle, the door handle is a bit of a mystery because it's left handed (upside down), the rear vent looks like it might be from an early Kombi, hubcaps are VW but the wheels are smaller... anyway, it's cute and a credit to its "designer".

Ah, that's better... leaning back against a hot water bottle, and drinking a mug of coffee. 

But back to language... sometimes I'll see a Chinese person reading a Chinese paper up at the Mall. There are often market stalls plonked in the middle of the main pedestrian area usually run by Chinese. Anyway, as I walk past I'll glance at the page of the newspaper and wonder how the hell anyone can understand all those lines and strokes. But they do, and have for thousands of years. I also wonder about those time capsule thingies sent into space with a note to aliens letting them know that we exist hehe.

Another interesting thing about humans is the total lack of knowledge we're born with. Birds don't need to be taught how to build nests (or indeed where to build them... they're not all in trees), or how to sing their songs some of which are quite complicated. But human beings need to be taught virtually everything. Moreover, if it weren't for our forebears leaving their accumulated knowledge in books, we'd revert instantly to the stone age. Language in its written form is crucial to the edification of humans. Australian Aborigines, for example, had no written language. The only way they passed knowledge from generation to generation was by paintings, songs and storytelling. They were quite sophisticated in certain ways, but were still living in the stone age when Europeans arrived. No Galileos or Shakespeares Down Under hehe. I suppose that says a lot for cooperation between races and cultures; the exhange of ideas and concepts. For 40,000+ years, the Aborigines never had that. Even today there are still pockets of primitive peoples in parts of South America. Probably a few in North America as well hehe.

So there ya go, cooperation and exchange between cultures. We can already see the difference those things are making to today's world with the advent of the Internet. It's been my savior, for sure. G's gone global! Jeez, imagine life without the web!

Heater's on! And that's something I won't be saying on the Odyssey... hopefully. But I might during one of my six monthly visits to the head/neck specialist in Sydney. No more overnight snorer's express though. I'll park the camper somewhere in the city... maybe overnight in someone's backyard if I get an offer. Who knows what might happen on the big adventure? But for now it's the Taree Ritual... a feed, a bit of telly and the hot water bottle. If it weren't for Waffle I think I'd go nuts. Okay, more nuts. Catch you on the next revolution. Gary

August 8, 2012. Well, whaddaya know! Oz is back in the fight with another 2 gold in London (cycling and sailing). Seems like the fat lady is still waiting in the wings. Now that should shut the Kiwis up! Oz is now 4/25 (with 12 silver) and ranked 11th. We were 24th the other day!

Meanwhile, China 34/73, US 30/70, UK 22/48, Korea 12/23, Russia 10/48.

Pru Goward on The Drum last night - when the panel was commenting about Tasmania going it alone in Oz in terms of legalizing same sex marriage - said that it's a case of semantics; that the word "marriage" had an established meaning, which was the legal union of a man and a woman. She said that she had no objection to same sex unions but that such unions needed a new word. Seems to me that she's being pedantic about semantics. Meanings change. Language changes. One glaring example of that is the word 'gay'. To my way of thinking, the current meaning of marriage denotes the exclusion of same sex couples, which is a form of discrimination. You don't achieve equality by having marriage for heteros and marriage by another name for gays.

Marvin Hamlisch has died at 68, which is what I'll be in a couple of weeks. What a great composer and musician he was; one of the all time greats.

Meanwhile, here's a BBC profile of Wisconsin Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page.

Keep your eyes on the prize, says Oregon Richie. As a young bloke, the prize was becoming a radio announcer. Once I achieved that, I no longer knew what the prize was. Hehe. I just drifted all over the place, falling into various situations because they were there. About 5 years ago, I got this crazy idea of touring Oz. Not sure why. I'd never had that ambition before. I suppose my interest in photography and journalism had something to do with it. But I suspect the main reason was that there were no real alternatives to doing something constructive with my life, especially at my age.

The other thing I mentoned to Richie was the zig zag path I've taken so far to get this Odyssey thing happening... Bluey, the HiAce campervan and then a ute with the wrong kinda tray. But all the while, cancer was waiting in the wings to pounce, and if it had pounced somewhere out in the sticks rather than here in Taree, I may never have had that rough patch of skin in my mouth checked by a GP, in which case there would be no Gary and no Odyssey. So there ya go... maybe there's some truth in the expression 'everything happens for the best'.

At the mo, though, I'm facing a challenge of a different genus. I was determined to have a hotdog for lunch. The problem is getting the bread roll to fit in my mouth, which is now restricted somewhat by the surgery. To get my lower teeth around the thing, I have to pull my bottom lip down so that it avoids getting in the way. It's all a bit tricky but if that's what it takes to have a hotdog for lunch, then that's what's gotta be done. Most of the bread roll gets the flick though because it's just too hard to eat it all. The things one does in one's attempt to get back to normal.

Speaking of normal, another thing I mentioned to Richie was that the vagabond lifestyle may eventually become the status quo to the point where the thought of settling down somewhere at sometime becomes abhorrent. Variety versus predictability, yes? Anyway, all shall be revealed in time, dear Breth.

Back from the doc who checked the stomach tube wound and replaced the bandage. There's hardly anything there... just a small scar type thingy. He wiped some germicidal something or other on it and asked if it was sore. Not in the least. Anyway, we got talking about the Odyssey and he said to my surprise, "I think you should go." I'd already mentioned the zig zag thing and how I might not be here if I'd been out in the sticks when the cancer raised its ugly head. He's also Sue and Lindsay's GP so he apparently thinks they're capable of taking care of themselves without me around. And he's seen my movies and bits of the AO site. He also has one of my calendars on his surgery wall. So there ya go, I've got the nod from the doc. Go forth, young man, and tell stories.

That reminds me of SF Jim who used to call my stories parables. He was referring to Daniel & Co. The Cody story was a biography, although I did take some poetic license with the Wingnut and Mark stories because I wrote those by adopting the personas of the lead characters while using Cody's emails as the main source of info. When I reflect on that period now, I realize just how unique it was in my life.

I watched an interview with an Aussie author last night, Nigel Marsh. He was a marketing guy and wrote a book called Fat, Forty and Fired. He's 50 now and his latest book is Fit, Fifty and Fired Up. Last night, he was talking about having a purpose in life; about doing things that are meaningful to you rather than being a yes/no man working for a boss or corporation. He was worried, like I am, about reaching old age and thinking, "What the fuck was that all about?" Before I met Cody I could have written a book called Fifty, Failed and Forgotten. But meeting Cody changed all that. His life and the lives of his friends became my focus; my purpose; my reason for existing. Cody is no longer with us so my focus has changed. As I said once before, the Aussie Odyssey web site is my shed. It's where I belong, and no matter where I am in Oz, that's the place I come home to. And perhaps more importantly, it's the place my friends visit knowing they'll always be welcome there. Cool, huh?

Even Rodney's still there, hiding under the veranda.

The more I contemplate the idea of the Odyssey web site being the place wherein I reside, the more I like it. It's fabricated from ideas, words and images rather than bricks and mortar, and it's taken a few years to construct. In fact, it'll be in a constant state of construction for as long as I live. TX Greg didn't include a front door in his graphic. Have you figured out why? No need to make an appointment, no need to knock, open 24/7.

Ding, ding! There goes the telly bell again. It's been another lovely day weatherwise, and Stan was here earlier to mow what little growth there was. That'll change soon enough with spring on the way and a bit of rain. I just hope the weather is fine for the Old Holdens Show the weekend after next. I'm itching to do another movie... something a bit different this time with a few revheads doing their thing. Owyagoinmatenoworries. Hehe. I might have to use sub titles.

ANYWAAAAAAAAY, it's time to flee and become a couch potato (as opposed to a typists chair potato). Checkyas l8r. Grow up, Gary. Shuddup. Gary

August 7, 2012. There was a story on telly last night about Australia's performance in London. Just because we've done well in the past, we have this idea that we deserve to win more medals that we're reasonably entitled to. Hell's bells, we're only a country of 20-ish million. Back in Montreal in the early '70s, our team returned home without a single gold. Shortly afterwards, the federal government established the Institute of Sport in Canberra, a facility designed to train elite athletes for international sporting competition. It took a generation for the training to pay off, and we did exceptionally well in the Sydney Olympics. We were also 5th at Beijing in 2008. Not only were the athletes at the Institute outstanding, but so were the sports scientists and trainers. The rest of the world took notice, so what did our trainers and scientists do after our success in 2000? They went on a world tour happily sharing their techniques with London, America, China and other countries. Hehe. Bloody dingalings! Not only that, London and China actually poached some of our top brains to train their teams! Actually, I remember reading something about that in the lead-up to the London games but didn't think much of it at the time.

Anyway, many commentators agree that our performance in London is a timely reminder that we're not automatically entitled to punch above our weight, that we need to toughen up and work harder. As one London commentator said, "The Aussies will be back. Make no mistake about that."

So what happened in London overnight as I slept? China 31/64, US 29/63, UK 18/40, Korea 11/22, France 8/26. And whaddaya know, Oz managed a second gold - 2/22.

Remember that dud GPS I bought? I bitched after their supplier sent a lamo email (which was a lie about the availability of old tech memory cards) and asked for a refund. And they agreed. I have to return the item but that's okay... the return postage is free. When I do buy one, I'll go to a local retailer because I want to discuss the features with a "live" person... features like spoken street names, regularly updated maps, and a built-in reversing camera.

The local post office sells a lot of computer related stuff as well as cameras. They have a bundle deal on a new Fuji - an updated version of the one I have - 14MP camera, bag, 4GB memory card, all for $189. Very tempting but I'll resist. Mine is 12MP but otherwise much the same. It's the one I used for the last 3 movies and does a pretty good job. Besides, I already have cameras I rarely use!

Back from the PO and getting keys cut at Mr Minit. AND THE PIE SHOP. I feel like a curry pie tonight so that's what I'm having, washed down with mushroom soup. Anyway, at the key cutting place I got spares made for the camper (amazed to see blanks still available for those old keys) and bought color coded key rings for the padlocks. They're circles of pliable plastic with a hollow interior like a tire so that you pull them over the top of the key like you pull a tire over a rim. Purple for the top storage bins, green for the bottom sides, and orange for the bottom back. There ya go. Now all I gotta do is remember in future which color is which.

I was also at the deli and spotted a nice looking fish cake and a spinach and riccota thingy. Mmmmm.

In the bathroom, I was listening to an interview with a woman who was born and raised in Khartoum. Incidentally, if you think the blue and white Nile is a myth or whatever, think again. She used to picnic on the banks of the Nile and often saw the different colors where the two Niles merge. Anyway, her parents brought her up as a Muslim but sent her to a private Catholic school. Her father remembered as a boy observing the students of the catholic school being delivered by cars driven by wealthy parents who spoke a foreign language. So he thought those students must have received a better education; one that would serve them better in a global world. He didn't want his children to live their entire lives in Khartoum. He had 7 kids so educating them at a private school cost him 70% of his income. Anyway, this woman (now living in Oz with her husband) said she was very close to her father. Being hot and dry in Khartoum, they often slept in the backyard under the stars. She would cuddle up to her father and ask him to tell her stories, which he did... stories of his childhood and the silly things he did then. She said hearing those stories of his boyhood adventures made him "more human" in her eyes, and strengthened their bond even moreso. That struck a chord with me. My father was distant. He never told stories. In fact, he rarely spoke at all. So there was no bond between us other than strictly father and son. Certainly nothing even remotely close.

Another mass shooting in the US with 7 dead in a Wisconsin Temple. Lunatics and guns, what a combo. Syria's PM Riad Hijab has defected and denounces the Damascus "terrorist regime". Well, we all know that. And Rover lands on Mars in a very complex maneuver that worked perfectly. Oz was involved too with our radio telescope at Tidbinbilla near Canberra. Funny old world innit... mass murderers, terrorist regimes and scientific triumphs for the benefit of all mankind. How do you figure all that?

Anyway, it's time for me to think about a curry pie and a bit of telly. And when I wake tomorrow morning (assuming I do) maybe Oz will have added another gold to its tally... and shut the NZedders up hehe. Meanwhile, keep your legs together and hooroo for now. Gary

August 6, 2012. Yesterday Averil mentioned the Australian involvement in the training of Chinese swimmers.

And I meant to comment on the pill. I watched an interview with Ita Buttrose the other night. She's been very successful in the publishing business over the years, and a leading light for women who wished to succeed in the corporate world. She was talking about the early days of The Pill, and how it liberated women from the apron strings mentality and allowed them to pursue a career outside of being a mother. "But in those days, you couldn't buy the pill over the counter, you had to get a doctor's prescription. And if you were single, like I was, the doctor wouldn't give you a prescription. He passed moral judgement, saying in effect that if you weren't married, you couldn't have the pill. So the only alternative for someone like me was to get my married friends to get it for me. And that's what happened." Hehe. How times have changed since the '60s and '70s.

And speaking of marriage, Oregon Richie's plans for his big moment sound very romantic indeed: So... we're still busy with plans, making arrangements, and she is working on a very well done and edited sountrack for our ceremony.  That plan? Fly up to Vancouver BC in Canada on Saturday the 22nd, board the ship, set sail, cross the Columbia River bar early in the morning and be docked in Astoria Sunday morning.  Hop off the ship when friends Kevin and Carla pick us up, go to a lovely park reserved for the ceremony, have an "officiant" come up to do the.... "thing!", have lunch, reboard the ship, and sail out over the horizon.  Cool.  Very.  Sail into San Francisco after a full day at sea under the legendary Golden Gate bridge as... a... still rather stunning to say.... a... married couple !  Wow !!

Yes, Richie is still having trouble coming to terms with such a major change in his life: childhood sweethearts finally getting hitched in their '50s. Hehe. In a way, they remind me of my Odyssey... the beginning of a new life. Scary... but also exciting.

TX Greg sent this pic:

You can read the story about the Olympic Moon in London here.

Seems like an appropriate time to check out what happened overnight with the medal tallies:

Oops! China's back on top: China 30/61, US 28/60, UK 16/37, Korea 10/20, France 8/25. And Oz? Oh dear... down to 24th and no new medals since yesterday 1/20. Even Ethiopia has 2 gold! Sheesh.

Just had another poke around the camper and checked inside the storage bins. There's a ton of room in there. When I had the van I used to ponder how and where the hell I was gonna store stuff. I figured I'd have to load it all into the van and then unload it all each time I stopped or needed to access the interior. What a bother! Either that or tow a trailer. Now there's room for all the gear I'll need without cluttering living space. Even the porta potti will fit inside one of the bins. Access is not all that easy at the mo but it will be when the camper is mounted on the back of the ute tray.

Yep, ya gotta be organized! Everything in its place, and a place for everything. I remember the first few days after moving into this house, constantly searching drawers and cupboards for things. Even out there with the kookaburras and wombats, ya gotta be organized. It's not like a picnic where someone forgets the mayo, or a weekend camping trip. It's just the same as being at home except it ain't sitting on a concrete slab. Funny innit... a house with moving scenery. "What's your address?" "Hang on, lemme check."

As much as I try to imagine what it will be like, I can't... not really. I've spent a lifetime going out and returning home, of putting the garbage out for collection, of checking the mailbox at the front gate, of rummaging around in the garden searching for the morning paper, of filling out forms and writing my address. I'm guessing that the novelty of the first few weeks will be kinda like taking a holiday, and then it will dawn on me that it's not a holiday... not strictly... that it's a permanent change of lifestyle. The Never Ending Story.

You know about ocky straps, right? Well, I just read about how they were invented. Back in 1952, a bloke was moving house and needed something to secure a mattress to the roof of his car, so the ol' light bulb lit up and he used a pair of his old suspenders. There are a few ockies in the back of the ute, but I'll get more for the Odyssey. Those things have a thousand uses, especially out in the bush. And rope. You can never have enough rope. And matches, and sticky tape, and string, and elastic bands, and bags, and wire, and pens, and and and and and....

In the late '80s when I bought the Kombi campervan, I diligently drew up a list of all the things I might need on camping trips. I think there were about 40 items on the checklist. From what I remember, I'd always return home without having used virtually any. Actually, there's a first aid kit in the Ute that's probably past its use by date. And don't say anything about the driver.

Dummy here also tried the Kenwood radio in the camper again the other day and still no success. But I managed to figure out a few more buttons, and at least got the search thing happening... except it wouldn't search. The only sound coming from the twin Altec speakers was hiss, as if there was no signal. Hello? Did someone say signal? Doh! How do you spell aerial? Right. Search is really important when you're changing location all the time. Obviously the previous owner wasn't interested in radio... just tapes and CDs... but I like radio, especially news, talk and current affairs, which the national broadcaster ABC does very well. There are two extra speakers mounted in one of the side storage bins (same side as the awning) for outside listening.

As to what attractions and places of interest there are in any given town or locality, a quick Google is all you need... or a visit to the local pub. Or both. Which reminds me, the Kombi Festival will be on again this October long weekend at Old Bar. It rained last year, but I was there in 2008. This time I'll shoot a movie rather than lots of stills. Since people insist on getting in front of the camera and bugging me, I'll feature the lookers and tire kickers this time and let the Kombis play second fiddle. Maybe I'll even get a few owners to talk on camera as they show me around their vans.

Hmmm, all very exciting. I must say that making movies inspires me far more than taking stills does. I used not think that way not all that long ago, but doing the Taree, Steam Loco and Sydney shoots won me over. It's a great way to tell a story, using motion and human interest. Stills are great too but for different reasons... framing, calendars, books.

Ding, ding! After 5pm. Teriyaki chicken with veges and noodles tonight, which sounds pretty cool. And a bit of telly, of course, my personal window to the world of news and current affairs and information. Gary

August 5, 2012. No problem winning medals for Oz. The total at the mo is 20, but only 1 of them is gold. 1 - 12 - 7. Back in 2008 in Beijing, Oz won 14 gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze. And we were 6th on the list. Hello? They say our team was older and more experienced back then and now it's a relatively new bunch of athletes still on the ascendency. Hmmm.

Current London totals are: US 26/54, China 25/53, UK 14/29 (Jeez, what an improvement from earlier this week), Korea 9/17, France 8/22.

Another gorgeous winter day in Taree, sunshine all the way and about the same as yesterday with a top of 21C. I checked the council calendar of events but there's nothing going on that's worth filming... except maybe a vintage motor rail but I don't know what the timetable is... and I ain't gotta ticket.

Meanwhile, the butcher birds outside are singing their awesome songs and making sure there's a new crop of little chicks ready to take over in a few weeks from now. Butcher birds are uninspiring to look at but their musical ability is astonishing. So I went out to the veranda to get a dose of vitamin D and noticed something interesting. And I photographed it. The perfect alignment of me, pole and sun.

I posted it on Red Bubble and called it Things Photographers Notice. Why not? Someone's bound to think it's interesting. Then again, maybe I should have called it Polar Eclipse. Speaking of interesting, I've seen plenty of photos of various fruits and veges but never anything quite as imaginative as this.

Back from checking out the camper again, but this time I ventured into the sleeping section all the way, and laid down. Hey, it didn't tip forwards! I have a habit of worrying about silly things ya know. Anyway, it's a full-length mattress with plenty of room, which is good cos I like to stretch out. And there's enough head room so as not to feel claustrophobic, plus three wind-out screened windows around the walls. At the head of the bed there are two LED reading lamps, and a cooling fan at the other end. All very comfy. The only trouble I had was lifting myself up with one leg standing on the step. Seems like the old pins need a bit of exercise. No trouble climbing the rear entrance ladder though.

Have you ever wondered what happens when a bulldog and a porcupine have a disagreement? It ain't funny.

Poor Averil had to move out of her chair in the sun when I arrived for a chat (even though I insisted she stay). Her place gets the afternoon sun whereas this place doesn't. The two houses are at right angles, with hers fronting the street that runs along the left side of this house. We're on a corner block.

Meanwhile, Ohio Jace wrote again to say his great nephew is home from hospital. He was a bit groggy and did not talk much and when he did he mumbled so badly he was difficult to understand. They probably doped him pretty good for the long trip home and he was still feeling the effects. Not groggy enough to stay off the comp though. Not sure if he has been told yet, but the doctor said his racing days are over. It will take a minimum of 18 months for the leg to heal and will never be as strong as before. He will need a second operation next summer to take the plate out if he does not rebreak the leg before then and it happens a lot according to the doc. He was talking about getting back on the bike the day after the surgery. Last year he was leading the championship and broke his right arm and now this year the left leg. The only difference last year he had the trophy in hand and ended up in second this year it was much closer and will be well down in the standings. It is a shame too, because he was very good.

Well, I suppose it's a shame in one way, but a broken arm and leg would be sending a pretty clear message to me if I were him. Maybe he could take up crocheting or something, hehe. He'll be disappointed, of course, but he'll just have to learn that it's not the end of the world. Actually, his story kinda reminds me of a story on telly about a footballer who suffered serious injury in a car accident and became a paraplegic. He loved the game so much he decided to become a coach. It was amazing to see him whizzing around the field in his wheelchair during training sessions. The guys in the team think he rocks.

Jace also mentioned how dry it is in his neck of the woods: We are under a severe thunderstorm warning at the present time (1 am) so hopefully the heat and humidity will be broken for a day or two. We desperately need the rain. Half of the corn is already lost and soybeans are not far behind. Farmers cannot get enough hay to feed the livestock so groceries will be going up. $$$$$.

NC Art also hit the keyboard and cleared up the business about councilman/person/alderwhatsit: Elders, Councilmen, Aldermen, Selectmen. We never have agreed on what to call that crowd. Molly, my wife, settled it for her two terms served on the board eight years after my time was up. The mayor was about to order her name sign for the council bench and asked her hesitantly what she wanted to be called. She told him that she could do the work of any man, so just ‘councilman’ would be fine and gave him my old one to save money. COUNCILMAN DARWIN it remained. Oh, the aggrandizement in which we love to clothe our insecure selves.

I had an aunty Molly. What a lovely name. I always associate Molly with someone who can whip up a batch of perfect scones at a moment's notice, and whose face is permantly etched with a motherly smile.

And daylight saving time? TX Greg is right about time confusion. Nobody likes daylight saving shifts, but our howls fall on deaf ears. Here’s one for the books: During WWII, the U.S. changed to DST. South Carolina went along, the state of Georgia refused—except for Atlanta—and the railroads do their own thing despite law or pressure. In traveling, my trips nearly all went through Atlanta for a change to other train routes. Trying to guess whether you would be one or two hours early or late for the train departure was a terror because the military expected you to report for duty or else.

I rather like DST. But here in Oz, not all states conform. There's always confusion at the border between NSW and QLD. On New Year's Eve, people celebrate the new year on one side and then rush over to the other side to celebrate it all over again. The whole strip from Coolangatta to Surfer's Paradise is pretty much considered one holiday playground. But it's the end of DST that bugs me... suddenly waking up before sunrise and having shorter days. Farmers don't like DST period. They reckon cows don't wear watches so milking time is milking time no matter what the clock says. The birds ignore it too.

I must admit, certain things about DST are strange... like cooking dinner and watching the 7 o'clock news in broad daylight.

Just checked email and saw one that looked like it might be spam, so I read it before downloading it. Nope, not spam:

Hi Gary,

I've finally finished reading your blog, and thought I'd drop you a quick email to let you know how much I enjoyed it.

What an incredible life you have had!

I wish I could help you financially, but unfortunately I can't at the moment.

However, I wish you all the best and if you're ever in Melbourne, feel free to make contact.

Take care,

How about that? I think she's referring to the Scrapbook. How sweet! Funny how she thinks I've had an incredible life. I don't think so at all. Weird, yes, scatterbrained, yes, but I wouldn't say incredible. Depends on what you compare it to, I suppose. If I compare mine to Art's, for example, then he's the one who's had an incredible life, not me. Anyway, Karen's email is emmachizet@... Emmachizet is a word I used in an ad (a live read) on a radio station in Sydney back in the late '70s, and the announcer stopped half way through and said, "Who the hell wrote this thing?" How embarrassing. Emmachizet was Oz slang back then for "how much is it?" Hehe. Hmmm... needless to say I never used it in an ad again... or anywhere else for that matter.

I must answer Karen's email and thank her for being so sweet. And I'll be sure to make contact when I'm in Melbourne. Maybe she'll whip up a batch of scones... with cream and jam. I'll tell you what one of my ab favs is, crepes sprinkled with icing sugar and lemon juice. Oh, yes! Actually, crepes are perfect for savory fillings and rolled into a tube. I used to make them a lot when I was in Canberra, including the fillings. They're really nice when the crepe is a little bit crispy around the edges. I also discovered papadams in Canberra. Mmmmm, lovely when they're crispy and hot. They're usually served with curries but they're also great as a snack on their own or dipped in sauces. Kinda like corn chips but more delicate and subtle.

Well, it's getting close to THAT time again, and after talking about crepes and papdams and all those goodies, I'm salivating. Actually, that Biotene toothpaste seems to be working well in that my ability to produce saliva is improving. At the same time, the gums are aching less. So it seems Nancy BMedSci BDent knows what she's talking about. Next appointment in about 10 days is for FILLINGS... but not the ones you roll in crepes. Eeeek!

Lindsay's up and yelling at Sue, so the joint is stirring back into life hehe. What a pair. Not my prob though. They do their thing and I do mine. In the interim, while I'm dreaming about unmentionables tonight, things will be happening in London and maybe, just maybe, Oz will win one or two more gold. Ya never know. BTW, I forgot to check Safrica and NZ this morning... nope, no more gold. One cheeky Kiwi said Australia is no longer the Green and Gold, it's the Green and Silver. The bloody nerve!

And that's it for Sundee. Seeya Mondee. Gary

August 4, 2012. I was right about it being cold yesterday morning. 2C. Today is better. Sunny and 6 at the mo, and headed for 20 (68F).

In ref to London time yesterday at 5pm mine, TX Greg wrote: No, that would have been AM in London. You're 9 hours ahead of London and 15 hours ahead of me :)  That of course is with the current daylight savings time crap, hehe. Not sure why google didn't show am/pm. Try and google "current time in _____"  Should pop up at the top. That also works for temperature/weather, "current temperature in ______"  I just checked and you are at a chilly 48F at 11:15pm

I was stacking up zeds then with my hot water bottle. Anyway, Greg's right. I just did the Google thing and it's coming up to midnight in London as it's approaching 9am here. But it shows 24-hour time and not AM/PM. That's cool. Isn't Google a wonderful tool? To get 68F from 20C I just typed in 20 centigrade.

I mentioned Ohio Jace last night. His great nephew took another tumble on his motocross bike and broke his left femur near the femoral artery. It was his second accident, and happened at the track during practice. The races hadn't even started yet. He was in a lot of pain, and the break's proximity to the artery prompted the medics to fly him by chopper to Cleveland. When asked how much pain he was feeling on a scale of 1 to 10, he said 10x10. But his major concern was the presence of female rellos when he wanted to pee hehe. He's in early puberty and a bit self-conscious of what's going on around his jewels. The ladies got chased out of the room each time the nurses came in to lift his gown and check his leg. Jace reckons he must have really thrown a fit at bath time when they take everything off. Meanwhile, the rest of the Ohio gang is fine and the youngsters are getting ready for school. Sean and his older bro are preparing for their European trip. So there ya go, no shortage of excitement in Ohio with boys being boys.

NC Art sent a pic of himself taken ages ago when he was a city councilman "and looking like a self-satisfied groundhog". He's wearing a checkered sports coat and a skinny tie. Hehe. Would you buy a used car from this man? Incidentally, we call members of council aldermen - although maybe it's alderperson now with women being on the board. Or maybe they've gone back to councillor.

So wot's happening at the Olympics? Ooer! The US has taken the lead: US 21/43, China 20/42, Korea 9/16, UK 8/22, France 8/19. Oz is now 19th with 1/14. That includes 9 silver which ain't bad. I heard last night that it's our swimming team's worst performance since the 60s or something. Oh dear... Safrica picked up a silver which brings their tally to 4 medals including 3 gold. Bloody hell, check this out! New Zealand now has 3 gold and 3 bronze. We'll never hear the end of that! Damn Kiwis.

You've heard me mention Red Bubble's Mieke before. Here's her latest... sand dunes in Western Oz. She's good, isn't she. And here's an artist I follow, Tom Bradnam, with his interpretation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. What a fertile imagination that bloke has! 

NC Art sent two more of his short essays... Scary Old Farm House and Reunions.

One reunion I remember was when a bloke drove an old Morris Oxford down the street and stopped. We got to chatting and I told him I used to own one of those old buggies. It was my first car, so he offered to let me drive it around the block. I couldn't believe how clumsy and slow it was compared to my current car.  Hehe. Maybe something similar happened to the bloke who first uttered the phrase, let sleeping dogs lie. But reunions can sure demonstrate how the mind is able to color and manipulate memory to the point of its having little in common with reality. When I recall memories of places I've been and jobs I've had and people I've known, my mind visualizes images of the way it was back then, and I get the impression that it's possible to just step back in time and nothing will have changed. I'll be in for a rude shock on the Odyssey, I fear, when I trundle into towns I called home many years ago. Nonetheless, it'll be an interesting experience.

So, next time you're chatting with an old bloke who begins a sentence with, "I remember when...", watch out. You're about to be told a few fibs.

Just back from the shops, and what a pleasant day it is, with peeps running around in loose clothing, some wearing T-shirts. I parked in a different spot this time, out in the open, and approached the Ute from front on. It was parked next to a 4WD and looked low and mean by contrast. Those quad headlights give it a totally different look to the regular Ford of a similar vintage with rectangular lights. If you happen to be interested in statistics for new car sales in Oz, here are the figures for June 2012. The Holden Commodore is outselling the Ford Falcon by almost 2 to 1. There's been a lot of talk lately about auto manufacturing disappearing from the Australian scene within a few years... that the small market and high Australian dollar just can't support it. GMH tried selling Holdens in the US a year or two ago but GM over there dropped the Pontiac brand. Now I believe that Holdens are being sold in the US as Holdens. One GMH exec said there are thousands of GM dealerships spread across the USA, and if each dealership sold just one Holden per month, it would be a boon for the company in Oz. The Holden Commodore is considered a large car here but in America it's probably classed as a compact. One of Ford Australia's main problems is the lack of an export market.

Anyway, it's the consumer who ultimately determines what works and what doesn't. Demand is what determines supply. By the same token, pet rocks weren't on the list of must haves before some genius thought of it and made a fortune hehe. By the way, one of the other cultural differences between Merry Cans and Aussies is that MCs are far more enterprising and willing to take risks. Lots of Australian inventors, for example, complain of having to go to the US to get investment interest in their ideas. And then our government bitches about all our best ideas going offshore.

I noted there was more room in the shower stall today and my towel didn't get so wet. Then I weighed myself. Oops! I've lost about 4 kilos lately. Scrawny as buggery. I think it's laziness. Lunch is often a cup of coffee cos I can't be bothered rustling up something. Sooooo, I better do something about it, like two cans of my supa dupa high nutrition stuff instead of one a day, and something more substantial for lunch... otherwise I'll disappear. I suspect I've gone off food during the past whatever months because it's been such a hassle. Even now, it's less of a hassle but still not the pleasure it used to be.

It's 5pm again! Ding, ding! I've defrosted a couple of Eddy's gourmet chicken rissoles which I'll wash down with mushroom soup. That should do the trick. And Lindsay has conned me into frying a couple of steaks for him and Sue. With onions.

Just turned on the telly and the latest report from London is that the crowds are huge and transport is choc a bloc. One American woman approached the camera and bitched about not being able to get tickets. A bloke holding a sign was asking for 2 tickets "to anything". So overnight my time looks like being a big day "over there". Gary

August 3, 2012. This morning will go down in the annals of MrB/Odyssey history as being the first ever with no email. Not even a spammer! Oh well... 

That Aussie swimmer who missed gold by a fingernail yesterday is from Port Macquarie. The locals erected a big screen in the middle of town to watch the event but were disappointed, at least to some extent. Silver is not exactly a measure of poor performance when you're competing against the rest of the world. And there I was in the hospital lodge not realizing it was all happening just up the road.

Ah, I can relax now... three spam emails just arrived.

It's bloody cold this morning and I'm really tempted to turn the heater on. But I better not. It might be a cheapie but the fuel it uses sure ain't. I need to be somewhere like Broome or Cairns where the temps are summerish even in winter. Sun power is free! Incidentally, if I'm Odysseying when I see the doc at Port Macquarie next February, that'll be okay. I'll just arrange my itinerary to suit. Mind you, February is mid summer in these parts, and I had intended to be somewhere south, but not to worry. I'll work something out.

I've also been thinking about the next vid (apart from the Old Holdens show this month, and the Sydney shoot next November). About half an hour's drive from Taree is Forster/Tuncurry, two towns divided by a lake, and a popular holiday destination with lots of boat harbors and beaches. It's a visually exciting place so I reckon that should be ideal for a fillum... lots of pretty pics and maybe even a few pretty people hehe. Gotta be careful I don't invite a knuckle sandwich though. Here's a map showing Forster/Tuncurry with Taree to the north.

Well, the UK has picked up triple gold to increase its total to 5, and I see that Safrica has now won 3. The medal tally (gold/total) is now: China 18/34, US 18/37 (with Phelps winning his 20th overall), Korea 7/14, France 6/16, UK 5/15. Oz is 16th with 1/11.

Justin remarked about my "equanimity" and reticence to succumb to negativity during the cancer episode this year. I responded by saying I've never made a conscious effort to be positive. The possibility of death was obviously a consideration but since it's inevitable anyway why worry about it? My primary focus was and is on accomplishing the things that are important to me before my time is up. I figured it was the job of the docs and nurses to worry about the cancer. That's what they get paid for. My job was to get on with life and utilize the time I have to make it worthwhile. Life is a gift not to be squandered on worrying about stuff over which you have little control. Focus on the things you can do. Having a goal is vitally important; something to make you wanna get outta bed in the mornings; something to aim for. If your purpose is clear then negativity doesn't even get a look in.

A good example of that was my last visit to Sydney when I had an appointment with the head/neck specialist. My main focus was on the logistics of the video shoot; working out what I had to do to get as much footage as I could in the six hours I had to spare. My visit to the doc was almost incidental.

Whether or not my attitude played a role in the eventual outcome of the cancer treatment will remain a moot point. What is known is that going about my normal business as best I could under the circumstances was far preferable to falling in a heap and worrying myself stupid about something best left in the hands of the experts. Anyway, that's the theory.

Just back from getting a dose of vitamin D. There was short program on telly about the lack of vitamin D in the average diet, and a call to it include in staples such as milk and bread (which one country has been doing for decades... I think it's Norway). The drop in adequate levels of vitamin D in our systems is apparently the result of education programs advising us to protect ourselves from the sun with hats, long sleeves, sunscreen, etc. So  there ya go, not enough sun means a lack of vitamin D; too much means skin cancers. I don't remember reading anything about that in the Bible, do you? Did God tell Adam and Eve about UV rays? I don't think he told them the earth was round either. Or mentioned gravity.

So what does the future hold for Honda's Asimo (asi = limbs, mo = mobility)? Will robots eventually be used to re-create themselves as we do? Will human beings ultimately become redundant? Is the purpose of mankind to create a likeness of itself (sound familiar?) to populate the universe? Robots don't need air or water or food, they don't need to kill in order to survive. They also have no waste product. One day they may be able to permanently re-charge their batteries by using solar or some other power source, making them independent of external assistance. Asimo is already 12 years old and hasn't aged a minute. Not a wrinkle in sight. He could live a thousand years or more! All he needs now is artifical intelligence that has the ability to continually evolve and absorb new knowledge... to think. The human brain, conversely, is just a lump of meat which has a use by date. Imagine that, Asimo might still be around at the end of the 21st century entertaining people at Disneyland, and looking exactly as he does now... except for a few new internal gizmos. Robots already build cars and other machines. They already do many of the menial tasks in the home - washing, drying, cooking, cleaning. Robots even fly airplanes! Not all that long ago, I used to see the garbage truck arrive early on Tuesday mornings accompanied by 3 or 4 fit blokes heaving bins up to the bloke standing in the back of the truck, who emptied them and tossed them back to the blokes on the road. Now there's a robot truck that does all that and is driven by just one person.

This pic is all I could find of manual garbage collection, but I remember the 70s before wheelie bins and compactors. The guys referred to themselves as "garbologists" and many of them were footballers who used the job to maintain their level of fitness... up early in the mornings, finished by mid morning. They were paid well, too.  The trucks were open at the back and the guy up there emptied the bins as they were tossed up to him, and then used his feet to stomp down the garbage. Too bad if there was lots of light stuff and the wind was a bit breezy hehe. I still vaguely remember "the dunny man". He drove a horse and cart and collected toilet bins in areas not connected to the sewer, or from houses without a septic tank. I lived in such a house in the early '70s... an old weatherboard place that hadn't changed since the late 1800s. The dunny man would remove the full bin and leave a clean one. Ew! I heard that's where the expression 'hum dinger' originated. Dunny carts were equipped with a bell - a dinger - to warn residents of their approach. Hum in those days meant an offensive odor, hence 'hum dinger'. But it was a good thing especially if the wind was blowing in your direction. Come to think of it, the old garbage trucks weren't too olfactory friendly either.

So there ya go, dear Breth, robots are taking over. I'm using one now. Not all that long ago I'd press a key attached to a metal arm that flew up and hit an ink impregnated ribbon which left a letter or number imprinted on a piece of paper. Most of the time it rebounded in time for the following arm to imprint the next letter, but not always. Occasionally, two arms or more would jam. The thing I'm using now is called a word processor. It's paperless and the result can be transmitted almost instantly through cyberspace to reach an audience thousands of miles away. Amazing innit.

And now it's 5pm. Not that I have a 9 to 5 mentality. I start my day at about 7am. It's just that 5pm seems about the right time to post Waffle and start thinking about the next phase of the day. That will probably change on the Odyssey because the routine (or lack of it) will be different. God knows what the hell I'll be doing at this time on any given day. Or even at 7am for that matter. Dawn and dusk are ideal times for photography, for one thing.

Anyway, for now it's routine time in Taree, and I admit I do like to watch certain programs on telly... it's a kind of comfort thing... a bit like friends popping in to discuss the day's events. Has anything changed in the Olympics medal tally at this point? No... it's night time over there. According to Google it's 8:11 in London but I'm not sure if that's am or pm. If the sun hasn't quite set over here yet, I'm assuming it's pm. 

Just checked email and Ohio Jace wrote. His great nephew had another accident on his racing bike...broke a bone close to the femoral artery. But he's in hospital and receiving good care. More about that tomorrow. Kids and bikes! Gary

August 2, 2012. Well, as it turns out, that's not quite it... the doc at Port Macquarie wants to see me again in 6 months. It was gonna be 3 but the head/neck doc in Sydney wants to see me in 3. However, all seems well, and it's a relief to be tubeless. I now have two belly buttons, as the doc said this morning.

That Italian chicken/asparagus soup with herbs last night was deeeeelish! Definitely on the shopping list again. A lot of the soup manufacturers these days use little cubes of chicken/beef that aren't real... they're artificial, grown in a test tube or something. But the soup I had last night used REAL shredded chicken. The asparagus was good too... al dente.

I have to say that the staff at PM hospital are terrific. They make you feel like you're visiting friends at home rather than a hospital. Even the manager of the Rotary Lodge paused to say her goodbyes this morning. One of the nurses there is a funny chick. Every time I tried to bitch about something she'd say, "Oh, shut up." Hehe. She's the one who tried to make me believe yesterday's catheter was her first attempt.

Speaking of cheeky, one of the guests on QI last night was talking about an Italian restaurant in London that specializes in rudeness. He said one night, he and his friends were sitting around a table when a waiter with a thick Italian accent approached them and told them to take their meals upstairs. "This-a table is a-booked! You have to move-a upstairs! Now!" They were half way through eating their meal! But the waiter insisted they had to move. The QI bloke said he almost pissed himself laughing. I used to frequent an Italian restaurant in Sydney called No Name. It was cheap with plenty of pasta and cheap red wine. The service was basic as was everything else, but there were no insults... and it was immensely popular.

Also as a guest on QI was the Honda robot Asimo, which is an amazing thing. They say there's still a long way to go with robots mimicking human behavior but nonetheless it's still pretty damn impressive. One of its most outstanding tricks is its ability to climb/descend stairs, and being able to run.

And speaking of London, one of our best Aussie swimmers missed out on gold by 100th of a second last night. Dammit. Beaten by an American in the 100 meter freestyle. Our silver and bronze tally is looking good, but we've only won 1 gold so far, and don't expect another. Medal tally (gold/total): China 17/30, US 12/29, Korea 6/12, France 5/13. Oz is now 15th with 1/9. Oh dear... One of our trainers said on radio this morning that part of our problem is a small population from which to draw an elite team which then has to be spread across a wide range of sports. We've done well in the past but this is not our year, obviously. Meanwhile, China continues to face suspicion of doping.

I see the UK has finally won gold... 2 in fact. Safrica has now won 2 as well.

Oh, did I mention I won $12.70 in Lotto the other day? I won $12.70 in Lotto the other day.

Just back from shopping for a few things. One was a room heater. Lindsay's got this thing about turning off the a/c too early... about 2 hours before I hit the sack, and the room gets cold. No point in turning the a/c back on cos it heats the whole house. Soooo, I have have this little fan heater. How does $14 sound? Is that cheap or what? It has an auto thermostat, 2 heat settings, an auto cut-off if anything goes wrong, a swirly vent at the front to direct air in several directions, and a fan-only setting for cooling. What a tricky little thing it is. It'll be good for the camper as well. Meanwhile, I'll use the hot water bottle to heat the bed.

NC Art wrote yesterday to wish me well with one of my two "dangling appendages" and the healing process. Actually, when I cracked my funny about removing the right one on Wednesday, the young doc didn't get the joke hehe. But the nurse did. "You're in big trouble if we can't tell the difference," she said. Art added: A friend once had to maintain what dignity was possible for a time when he had a colon drain, bladder catheter, and stomach tube. He bore it stoically. I would have been a raving maniac I expect.

Art has also been having trouble with his email: If this message makes it through the battle lines it will mean I’ve won a victory of sorts. Finally got some attention from my ISP regarding their server blocking messages because I had been flagged as a brute force spammer. Why the hell, I don’t know. Their lamo comment was that mistakes happen, but rarely. I am encouraged because three messages I sent at midnight Tuesday made it across the barbed wire fields, tank traps, and enemy battlements.

So did this one: These rules are saved for posterity in the Headstone of Russell J. Larsen in the Logan City Cemetery , Logan , Utah. 


1. It's important to have a woman who helps at home, cooks from time to time, cleans up, and has a job.

2. It's important to have a woman who can make you laugh.

3. It's important to have a woman who you can trust, and doesn't lie to you.

4. It's important to have a woman who is good in bed, and likes to be with you.

5. It's very, very important that none of these four women know each other.

I was thinking about the Rotary Lodge at Port Macquarie. It's almost like a second home... familiar. All the rooms are identical except for the number of beds. Last night, I had one of the 2-bedders. But when I stay there, it's not like being in a strange place at all. It's kinda homely, actually. And I suppose that's the way it will be with the camper no matter where I happen to be. All my stuff will be stored away in cupboards and drawers, which is a necessary part of the familiarity process... knowing where all my goodies are and being able to access them without rummaging through bags and suitcases. That's the downside of foldaway campers... all that dreary setting up and unpacking every time you stop, and having to go through the reverse process when you leave. Who the hell needs that? 

At the moment, of course, it's all supposition - hypothesis - and I won't really know until I'm "out there" in the thick of it. I can't wait to see the words of experience spilling out of my brain and onto the comp screen. Is it what I hoped it would be? Am I having a ball? Is the Odyssey my dream come true? Or a nightmare? Well, it's a bit too late now to rustle up an alternative at this time of life hehe. I either go out with a bang or a whimper. One thing I am confident of is that the Odyssey will provide me with endless material for my writings, photography and movies. No shortage of variety, that's for sure.

And when it's all over? Probably a book based on the highlights. But I'll attend to that when and/or if the time comes. In the interim, I don't see the day coming when I'm sitting around with nothing to do. That would be insufferable.

Weeeeeeell, here we are again, time to cease Waffling for a while and turn my attention to other matters, like a Herbert Adams King Island pastie filled with tender King Island beef and vegies, washed down with a mug of potato and leek soup. Yeah, I reckon I can handle that without too much trouble. And telly, of course... gotta keep up to date with the various goings on of this third rock. Gary

August 1, 2012. It's after 3pm at the Lodge and I'm tubeless. The buggers tried to frighten the daylights outta me earlier, telling me all kinds of terrible stories about removing PIG tubes and what could go wrong. It was the young doc's first experience with this particular procedure so the senior doc was giving him instructions, such as wearing a plastic coat to protect him from my spray while the senior doc and the nurse stood 20 paces away. Hehe. Then they told me I'd let out a scream when the thing was yanked from my stomach but that I'd be okay shortly thereafter. Earlier, when the nurse put a catheter in my arm, she said ''this is my first one... do you bleed much?" Yeah, right, it was the first one for the DAY. So then they fed some stuff through the catheter that would make me whoopee. Pretty soon I was nodding off and even snoring. Next thing I knew, they were standing around the bed and asking me how I was feeling. "It's out," the doc said. I didn't believe him, so I looked down at my stomach. There was a little bandage there with a spot of blood. I hadn't felt a thing! Talk about an anti climax. Then I was offered a sandwich, a creme caramel, a banana flavored custard and a cup of tea, all of which I demolished with ease. After another check an hour or so later, they allowed me to leave. But the doc wants another look before I drive back to Taree in the morning at about 8am, then they want me to check with my local GP next week. And that's it!

There was a woman in the waiting room who was obviously pretty new to the whole procedure. She also had a food tube but hers was up her nose, so she couldn't even have a cuppa. I had one of those for 2 weeks back in Sydney after the op. What a pain that was! Worse still, was having it removed. The tube went all the way up the nostril and down into the throat and there was no anaesthetic when the nurse finally pulled it out. Yow! I realized how 'yow' when I watched another patient in the same ward have his removed hehe. His face was contorted like you wouldn't believe. Yes, dear Breth, it's been a pretty interesting experience.

It's been a nice day weatherwise. This room is quite warm because the sun has been shining on the front windows all day but it's getting late so it'll turn cold pretty soon. There's a little blower heater in the closet so no worries. The forecast is for similar weather tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'll get to try my Italian chicken and asparagus soup with herbs.

Well, what can I say? It feels good to be able to tuck my shirt in again hehe... instead of having that damn tube dangling down the outside of my pants, and swinging to and fro every time I took a step. I'd have to watch the thing closely all the time to make sure it didn't get tangled up in something. And in bed, if I didn't remember to check it each time I rolled over, there was a danger of the cap slipping off and wetting the mattress and sheet. Ew! One time it caught under my leg as I got into the Ute and spilled crap all over the seat, which I had to clean with detergent.

Come to think of it, it's a good thing I live in a town with relatively easy access to the centers I've needed to treat this cancer biz, and the teeth. The lodge here at PM is a bonus as well. I ain't too crazy about the train but it's a lot cheaper than air. If I ever need treatment in a hospital again, the lodge will be the camper! Free accom!

I really have been outta touch in my old age. I watched a show on telly last night about an Aussie singer whose hit Now You're Just Somebody I Used To Know went to No. 1 in Britain, America and Oz, and the video has had almost 300m views on Youtube. Wow. He's not your typical pop star either. He was quite shy and unassuming during the interview.

The other day I was talking about Winton, the little country town in the middle of nowhere. Well, a local bloke built a huge "musical instrument" from old fence posts and barbed wire out in the bush hehe. Anyone who stumbles across his rather novel creation can play it, and that's exactly what the bloke in the vid above did. He loves to experiment with new and different sounds. And why not? Music is everywhere if you look for it.

Anyway, I'll catch a bit of telly and hit the sack. It's been a pretty tiring day. Gary


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