the WAFFLE page

September 30, 2012. There ya go, another month bites the dust. Another day older and deeper in debt, as the old song goes. I woke to a nice email from the Veteran & Vintage Chevrolet Association of Australia this morning: What a great production you have made and is already bringing back memories! I will ensure that it is circulated to as many members as possible to enjoy - thank you. Russell Linfoot. VVCAA. It's nice to get a bit of feedback like that. Although I enjoy making vids, I also put a fair bit of effort into the things so I appreciate the comments.

BTW, did you notice the bigger Fuji is not bothered by the glare from glass and chrome? No flare.

TX Greg also commented: Love the car show vid :) And guess what, you caught a pic in there of similar old one that I have in my garage. Can you guess which one??? It was a situation when I got ready to trade it in I didn't get offered crap for it, so I just kept it and said someday I'll tinker with it and fix it up. Yeah that someday still hasn't happened, so there she sets, cob webs and all.

Well, that could be any one of a number of later models. I'm guessing it's a '70s vintage or thereabouts, maybe one of the sporty coupes. Then again I've never thought of you as a rev head. But I really don't know. It's interesting about cars and other things. They start out costing a bomb, then their value decreases with age until it plateaus for a while, and then it begins to increase again, more so if the model is considered a collector's item.

Greg also answered my query about the camper level: As far as leveling the camper for the fridge, if you feel level inside that's good enough. I used a simple bubble level (see pic) and used the rule that the bubble should be at least more than half way inside the center circle. Yes, spirit level, bubble level, all the same thing... except these days they also have digital levels. Anyway, I figured pretty much the way Greg does... close enough is good enough. As long as you don't have to stand on the fridge door and lift it open, it should be fine. My level is 10" long with two bubbles, one for horizontal and one for vertical (which should come in handy after I've had a few drinks).

There was an interesting story on Land Line last night about an American bloke who emigrated to Oz many years ago and bought 600 acres on the Liverpool Plains at Quirindi. He needed water, so he bored down into the ground until he reached the aquifier. He had also invented a way to extract the water without clogging the pipes. The water was then distributed via an irrigation system he built himself. "That's what I needed, water. So I figured out how to get it and use it for irrigation. It was like manner from Heaven! I didn't have to wait for rain... I could have good quality water any time I wanted it." Irrigation was unheard of in the area at the time. But other farmers soon cottoned on to the idea and started to copy it.

His first crop was kikuyu grass, used for lawns, pastures, playing fields, etc. The Eykamps have been producing Kikuyu seed in Quirindi NSW since Roy Eykamp developed the business several decades ago. He was offered $8000 for his crop at a time when an acre of land was worth $10. "I didn't wait for them to make an offer, I told them what I wanted." He also figured out how to harvest the seeds, which are very small. He got a bunch of used machinery including an old Kombi engine and built the thing himself. "Machinery is alive, and if you treat it right it'll treat you right. I don't care if people say I'm crazy... I love machinery. And if I want a machine to do something in particular, I design it and build it myself." The machine he built to harvest the kikuyu seeds is a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks up the small seeds without damaging them. It's still used by his sons decades later. The family has made millions of dollars from the farm. "I never wanted to expand. If I couldn't make a good living from 600 acres then I'd give up. I have the money to buy this whole area but what for? Then the farm would own me instead of the other way around, and I'd have no time for relaxation and vacations. I often visit my relatives back in the States."

What a remarkable man - farmer, inventor, engineer. He's old and in a wheelchair now but his family continues the farming tradition. One son said he's glad to be living in Australia in a civilized and peaceful society. "I wouldn't want to live in America. No way."

BTW, I know now why Lindsay was a bit hesitant last night to accept my offer of bangers and mash @ $1.50 each. He thought I meant $1.50 for each sausage! Bloody dickhead. I meant $1.50 each PERSON! They were good too... pan fried to perfection, then put aside, fat tipped out and then the sliced onions cooked in the remaining fat, also to perfection. Add creamy mash, lots of gravy, and there ya go. 

Back from Old Bar and the Kombi Fest which was well attended. Nothing else there, though... no ultralights or helicopters... nothing on the beach... just a few carnival rides. There were some kids at the skateboard rink riding bikes so I started videoing them and what should happen? One kid had a nasty fall. He didn't move for a while and everybody rushed over. But he was apparently okay... shaken and bruised but otherwise fine. KIDS!

I'd finished shooting the Kombis when I waddled over to the carnival area. It was then that I discovered the larger Fuji had gone bung. The same zoom problem I had some months ago on the way back from Port Macquarie. It fixed itself eventually and I'm hoping the same thing will happen again. Meanwhile, I used the smaller Fuji to finish the shoot.

Some of the Kombis were really cool, especially the older split-screen ones, so I had a good time shooting exteriors and interiors, plus crowd shots (and there was no shortage of people). The weather was fantastic... sunny but not too hot. Bit windy though, particularly on the beach. Not a surfboard rider in sight.

One young bloke at the Kombi Fest (the only good looking bloke at the entire event apart from me) noticed a Kombi sitting on a trailer and remarked to his friends: "They're doing it up... it's not finished yet." So I said, "That must be the reason for the empty hole at the back where the engine's supposed to be." "Yeah," he agreed. "They haven't finished it yet." Yeah well, I didn't say he was smart.


Bit late now to start editing the vid so I'll get stuck into it tomorrow. I think I'm gonna have to dump the natural sound (or most of it) because of the wind noise. Oh well...

Anyway, it's time to call it day. And a month as it happens. Seeya in October. Gary

September 29, 2012. Clever little me! I started editing the Chevy Show and Shine this morning and had it finished by midday, which was a lot faster than I expected. So now it's uploading to Youtube. No music this time, just natural sound to capture the voices and the sound of the engines (as well as crunching gears). It's a pretty good movie with lots of cars driving about and parking. One of them reversed as I sat on a park bench and nearly flattened me!

Meanwhile, TX Greg wrote: Had a busy day and just got to watch the vid. Youre getting more crafty all the time!  I like the soundtrack, relaxing just like the places youre visiting :)  I've notice something you keep doing, everything is at eye level. Like it would have been cool if you had set the camera right on the railroad tracks. 

Yeah, dummy me! That would have been cool. The monopod leads me astray because it makes me think in terms of eye level. You don't get that when shooting stills because you can move freely.

Here's something I should get you, hahaha... Think of all the things you could film with that, hehe :)

Yeah! I've also seen photographers using balloons and kites and camera remotes to get aerial shots. It's a bit hit and miss but well worth the trouble apparently. What about a long pole?

BR João wrote: 33° C in Taree? Here in Floripa we had three days of unexpected cold for the beginning of spring, yesterday night snow fell over the inland hills of the state. At this moment, the beginning of morning, the thermometer shows 15° C here where I am. Weather is crazy everywhere, maybe the Mayas are right about the end of the world :-). Taree is 32° South, Floripa is 28° South, theoretically Taree must be colder. I only hope next summer could be regularly warm so the beaches could be full of beautiful young people. If we have a next summer… he, he, he. Tchau.

Well, it's not 33 today but it's warm. Also cloudy, so I'll do the Kombi shoot tomorrow at Old Bar... and maybe some beach stuff. Remember last year when the ultralight hit the Ferris Wheel? No Ferris Wheel this year. But there will be small planes and a chopper for joy flights. Maybe even some sky divers. So that'll be good to shoot. 

NC Art wrote: So American lingo is degrading the purity of Britspeak. Tough. In hill country of the American South, until recently, Elizabethan English was still heard. These folks got here early, followed Indian trails and rivers north and west, settled down in coves and hollows and got along right well. Fished, trapped, grew corn and apples to make whiskey and hard cider...and minded their own business for 300 years or more. But, er, some of them were right peculiar; inbreeding y’know. I knew a family named Beddingfield—pronounced Biddyfield. Jiggs and Toad were brothers and believed the world was flat because the Bible say the “four corners of the world.” And round things got no corners, Toad reasoned. He also would go running all night occasionally, howling like an animal. That kind of aberration likely was the basis of old werewolf stories, dontcha think? 

I'm sure we got 'em here too, Art, and I suspect I'll meet a few on the Odyssey. Meanwhile, Art questions the wisdom of having pet pythons to keep the rat population in check: Why not merely keep cats to eat the rats which make snake dinners? Four cats on these premises, but nary a rat or snake.

As to reptiles, Steve W writes: You may need to change your thoughts about Brown Snakes, they are far from timid. I had heard of browns chasing people and I didn't believe it until I lived on a farm for a few years. Trust me they know no fear and will turn to attack you. Another "neat trick" they have is even if they are heading away from you, can suddenly raise up, balance on 30 cm of their tail and attack you backwards (from their perspective). Don't mess with those suckers. The Red Belly Black snake on the other hand is pretty timid and only around 1/50th as venomous as the Brown. And there is the King Brown………now there is a nasty bastard!

Now that you mention it, Steve, I met a woman here in Taree who has a farm where she runs and breeds horses. She mentioned brown snakes one time and said they're pretty brazen, traversing the lawn at the back of the house like they own the joint. She also mentioned that they're likely to attack if provoked (or feel threatened). So she shoots them with her rifle to keep them from bothering the horses. I have a couple of walking canes (for bush walking). They're handy for eliminating spider webs as you walk narrow trails through dense bush, and also for climbing rugged inclines. I've seen the way snake handlers use a stick to subdue and lift snakes before lowering them into a hessian bag. Pretty neat trick which I might try if necessary hehe. In any case, I always feel a lot safer with a walking cane in the bush. You can also hold it upside down and use the handle to practice your golf swings with kangaroo poo. FOUR! "Say what?" *SPLAT*

Mr and Mrs Richie are back from getting married and sailing around the place on a cruise ship. They also spent time wandering around San Francisco checking out the sights. It all went fine... and Sunday turned out way better than predicted with the weather and was nearly perfect.  It's all pretty amazing, and all sort of still settling in !!  I have a WIFE.... good grief !!  Incredible. And they reckon you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Wow !!  Becky was embracing me in the living room last night... still pretty overwhelmed, but... "After all these years I am married to the boy I always wanted to be with....", although she rarely calls me "boy" any longer. I can understand that. I've never called you boy.

Roite, the Chevy vid is now ready to rock and roll. Just scroll down the page a little when you get there.

From the Beeb: Pope Benedict XVI's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, is to go on trial over the theft of sensitive papers exposing alleged corruption in the Vatican. Would I be correct in suggesting that the fat lady ain't sung yet?

US network Fox News apologises for showing live pictures of a man fatally shooting himself in the head after a high-speed chase in Arizona. Reality imitating the movies.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell, it's getting late. But I just took the spirit level down to the camper, and tested it. The van feels and looks level but it's not. The bubble is just off center. So how level does it have to be for the fridge? Maybe TX Greg can tell me. Lots of camp sites look level but are probably out by a few degrees. Is it that critical to be absolutely horizontal? BTW, there's a bunch of dents in one side of the van that look like they've been made by hail at some point in the old girl's life. Must've been coming down at an angle cos the other side, front and rear are okay. I guess after being on the road for 30-ish years it's not surprising. 

I bought some bangers today... tomato and onion flavored... so I asked Lindsay if he and Sue wanted bangers and mash and onions and gravy tonight. $1.50 each. He carried on like I was asking him for his life savings. But he relented. Sheesh. I'm in the mood for a banger or two.

So that's about it. Kombi shoot tomorrow - sunny and mild at 21C. Gary

September 28, 2012. I spent this morning editing the final part of Villages of the Manning Valley and uploading it to Youtube (which took ages). I'm tired of looking at the damn thing. I used music this time... rather bland stuff. Not sure if it's appropriate but what the hell. It makes a noise and fills in the silences.

Meanwhile, NC Art figured out what postphone means: A bloke sitting on a fence post while using a cell phone is—obviously--making a postphone call. Simple. Works for other kinds of posts too. Hehe.
    But everything does not always work. Like my bank. It has my credit card account screwed up like Hogan’s goat and has been off-line most of today. Navigating from account links has my skinny old arse screwed up so tight it could pinch a needle in half. Better sleep on it and have another go after regaining my sunny disposition and calm outlook when dealing with complete damphools. The woods are chock full of them these days.

Yep, I find "sleeping on it" works pretty well too, and saves a lotta frustration and anxiety. Certain tasks are better left to the subconscious. 

You know what temperature it is today... in spring? Try 33C. That's about 90F. It was warm yesterday too but mid 20s, otherwise I probably would have expired doing all that shooting in the sun.

Guess who's now an expert pancake flipper? The new non-stick pan I bought for 10 bucks has a circular upward-sloping edge which means when you send the pancake to the edge, it turns upwards. A flick of the wrist sends it into the air where it flips over and lands back in the pan. How's that for cool? I've always wanted to be able to do that but ordinary frypans are not designed for it. Maybe I'll do a short vid of me doing my pancake flipping trick. My stomach's been bothering me for the past few hours saying WHAT ABOUT LUNCH? so I had to relent despite being BUSY.

I hate being interrupted. At about 10am, the estate agent bloke arrived to check a plumbing leak and organize someone to fix it. Then at 11.30, meals on wheels arrived (Lindsay was at the pub). Shortly afterwards, Averil phoned for a chat. Sheesh. And then on top of all that my stomach started bitching. How the hell is a bloke supposed to cope?

From the Beeb: A man linked to an anti-Islam video that sparked riots across the Muslim world is being held without bond in Los Angeles, for violating probation terms. Interesting comment from Youtube about refusing to delete the video..."The answer to free speech is more speech, not less." Yeah, makes sense to me. Meanwhile, the loonies jumped the gun rather than wait for justice to take its course, and caused the deaths of many people in the process.

In response to the Israeli prime minister's calls for a "clear red line" to be drawn over Iran's nuclear programme, Iran says it will defend itself if attacked. That's if anything is left over after the smoke clears.

There is little that irks British defenders of the English language more than Americanisms, which they see creeping insidiously into newspaper columns and everyday conversation. But bit by bit British English is invading America too. Interesting article and one that should interest NC Art. I say old boy, rather spiffing, what?

I heard on the radio today that a man has been charged with the rape and murder of a missing woman in Melbourne. She was from Ireland and worked for the ABC here, where she was very well respected and liked. She went for a night out with her work colleagues and decided to walk home in the early hours because her flat (where she lived with her husband) was only a few blocks away. She went missing for a few days until police discovered her body in a shallow grave. How dreadfully sad. How inexplicable. One of her relatives in Ireland said there were no words to describe their grief. Her work colleagues are speechless and devastated as well. And you can imagine how her young husband feels.

And the evil asshole who committed the crime? He's 41. You have to wonder how on earth he could live all those years with friends, family, workmates, and various associates without having been spotted as a potential monster. Maybe it has something to do with the word "potential". You can't jail someone for thinking evil thoughts. It's just such a shame that dreadful things have to happen before anything can be done. What an unspeakably horrible thing to happen to that poor woman in the prime of her life.

BR João wrote: I read today on BBC the news about an Australian teenager who was bitten by an Inland Taipan near Sydney (what is uncommon) and survived (what is much more uncommon). Every time I read something about those extremely dangerous Australian animals (that I love, by the way, my favorite is irukandji) I think of your Aussie Odyssey – it will be an adventure, for sure. If you saw any Taipan, or Tiger Snake, or Brown Snake, in your way please take a photo, with zoom, of course, from a secure distance :-). On local news of my State I read about another young man who faced a 82 wagons train with his car. The car was destroyed but the guy escaped with minor injuries. I think I will introduce those two teenagers so they can found a Club of Improbable Survivors. In an article you linked another day someone says that traffic in São Paulo is like hell; well, everything in São Paulo is like hell, at least this is what all cariocas think (carioca is who was born in Rio de Janeiro, like me). Tchau

Yep, those box jelly fish can kill in minutes. As to snakes, I could see a few I suppose, more likely pythons (carpet snakes) which are pretty common and relatively harmless. Farmers keep them as pets to kill rats and mice in the barns. But snakes like browns and tigers tend to be pretty shy, and avoid human contact. Goannas, on the other hand, are as cheeky as buggery and often invade camp sites looking for handouts. I'm more the wombat type, or 'roos and wallabies - things that don't bite people. But I'll keep your request in mind, João. :o) 

Incidentally, the Odyssey fundraiser got another 10 pledges today, bringing the total to 150 or $750, for which I am most certainly grateful.

But now it's THAT time again, dear Breth. Planet America is on in 20 minutes so I'll be able to catch up on the Obama versus Romney race for the white house. After that I'll rustle up some vittles. I hope you enjoy the Villages vid. Gary

September 27, 2012. Steve W wrote: The Pedantic Bastard again: I have an absolute fear of dentists, however having bowel cancer years ago, this fear has been overtaken by proctologists. Enough said,  I do question from todays Waffle  "iis now postphoned" is that a phone call after the event? Sorry can't help myself.

If Steve hadn't brought the 'h' in postponed to everyone's attention, the Yanks would have thought that's how we spell it in Oz. Now you know how I get away with grammatical errors. Or did. In any case, there are certain words I have trouble remembering how to spell. Is there an 'h' in postponed or not? Usually I check but not this time. Meanwhile, I think we have a case here of the pot calling the kettle black. Hmmm?

TX Greg commented on the guestbook entries: Those two guest book entries appear to be just spam. You're right, mate. I clicked on the URLs and found a Jewish publication and some kinda forum. Typical me. No wonder I've been ripped off so many times in my life. I just don't think like a crook, and rarely suspect peeps of having an ulterior motive. Anyway, thanks for the alert, Greg. I've deleted them.

Beautiful day, and perfect for the shoots at Wingham and Mt George. I'll leave here about 11.30. BTW, the vids I've already posted on Youchewb are beginning to creep up in the number of viewings from one or two a day to three and four or more. Maybe personal recommendations are beginning to kick in. It pays to be patient, yes? Anyway, I'm content for things to take their course. No-rush Gazza they call me.

From the Beeb: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls on the UN Security Council to make a renewed effort to tackle the crisis in Syria. How many different religions are there in Oz? How many in the US and Britain? Do we have the kinda probs they have in Syria or other Middle Eastern countries? What's wrong with those people? How come there are no boatloads of Australian refugees heading to Middle Eastern shores?

US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are campaigning in Ohio, as polls show the incumbent pulling ahead there. Maybe the republicans should invite Clint Eastwood back for another shot at rescuing the party's failing fortunes.

Moon River singer Andy Williams dies at his home in Branson, Missouri, a year after being diagnosed with bladder cancer. Oh, dear. Ole Andy's gone. He was cool, I thought.

Iran's president has accused the West of nuclear "intimidation" in a UN General Assembly address boycotted by the United States and Israel. It was using a nuclear arms race to threaten other nations to accept the status quo, said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He does have a point, of course. On the other hand, so do we. Hehe.

A Norwegian family has won the country's national lottery three times in six years, taking home a total of more than 3m euros ($3.9m; £2.4m). Last week, 19-year-old Tord became the latest member of the Oksnes family to hit the jackpot, following his sister Hege Jeanette and father Leif. Yep, that's how crazy the chances of winning are. Quite a few times I've heard of winners being people who bought a ticket on the spur of the moment (perhaps their first ever ticket) and then forgotten about it. Other people religiously buy tickets every week for years and never win. I've got a ticket in tonight's $30m draw but I ain't holding my breath.

You wanna see where Cody is? The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has produced one of its most extraordinary views of the Universe to date.

Isn't God wonderful? Of all the billions of galaxies in the known universe and who knows how many solar systems to choose from, he chose ours on which to spend six days creating all that we see today. Bloody marvelous if you ask me. I suspect he uses some kind of Sat Nav device to remember which miniscule dot we're on. Pretty easy to get lost out there, ya know.

NC Art wrote: What’s Steve W on about and wot the hell is the October Long Weekend anyway? And, who cares besides Steve? Ah well.

Nothing to worry about, Art. It's just our Aussie sense of humor. Er, humour. And the long weekend is our Labour Day Weekend, Monday being a holiday to celebrate the introduction of the 40-hour working week or 8-hour day (less morning tea, 1-hour lunch, afternoon tea, 4 weeks annual leave, 2 weeks sick leave, maternity leave, time and a half for overtime, double time for weekends, a number of public holidays of which Labour Day is yet another, etc, etc, etc). Incidentally, the party in government federally, at the mo, is the Labor Party hehe. Dunno why they omitted the 'u'. Dozen madder.

    While you were exposing your bone to a female dentist, I spent some time renewing my driver’s license. At 87, half blind and a quarter deaf, and not to mention shuffling along with a walking cane there was some doubt I would be turned loose on the hapless public for another five years. Turns out, I passed enough of the vision and sign rec tests, but did not escape a road test. The nice examiner was suspicious of my reflexes I think. That worked out well; he didn’t seem too frightened by my maneuvers and even got a bit relaxed when I took him back to the station with no damage to his health. One delay occurred while I had to suspend the process to fix a brake light which I didn’t know was inoperative. Hell, you can’t keep your hoof on the brake while walking around the rear of a vehicle. Sooo, I’ll be only 92 on my next renewal. Look out pedestrians!
    There’s a TV commercial featuring a lady in parked car which lost a door when she threw it open in front of a passing vehicle. I saw a real one exactly like that once, except the door-bereft driver was one stunned male. In a span of 74 years behind steering wheels, one can see some real funny/scary stuff. A flatbed truck of pine logs on fire on a mountain road one night and throwing off a dense and acrid smoke cloud. A beautiful new boat which shifted on its trailer and burned a long gash in one side as it rested against the trailer tire. Poor bloke finally noticed, stopped and looked about to cry as I passed the rig. I’ve been in some scary situations, but enough for today.

Memories of riding my bicycle as a kid and slamming into a car door flung open unexpectedly. I ended up on the road but the driver didn't bother to help. Meanwhile, congrats on reaching the ROA of 87. You're my oldest groupie, ya know. Hehe. As well as a respected and admired contributor to the Daily Waffle for the amusement and edification of millions.

My bright yellow spirit level just arrived, and a dandy one it is. You can read vertical and horizonal levels simultaneously. It's not boxed, and doesn't say where it's made, but at $20 who's complaining?

Back from Wingham and Mt George with lots of footage of old Chevies and some of Mt George. I arrived fairly early at the Chevy show which meant I was able to shoot them entering the park and driving to their parking spot. Mucho betterer than static shots. Two blokes arrived in an old '20s Chevy rag-top. Turned out to be father and son. The old bloke was about to get out of the vehicle so I asked who was the oldest, the car or him? It was him. The car is approaching ninety but he's already been there. "You don't look a day over 89," I said. And not only has he seen 90 but also much of Australia in a Chevy one year younger than the one he was in. His son related a story of a modern 4WD that got stuck in mud, so they asked the old bloke if he'd tow them outta of the bog in his old Chev hehe. So he did, no worries. What a classic! His son also talked about their trip to Wingham. "Thirty to thirty five miles per hour," he said, "if it gets up to 50 you've really gotta hang on (to the wheel)." Then he showed me why... semi elliptic springs and no shock absorbers. The old fella, by the way, credited his longevity to being a farmer all his life... dairy farm. Nice old bloke he was too... all smiles.

Anyway, it was a fruitful couple of hours. At Mt George, a couple of kids walked down the main street as I was shooting. One was a bit older, probably 16 or so, and shirtless. He had pecs even Arnie would have been proud of. So I hit the zoom. What? Batteries are low? So the bloody zoom wouldn't work. I had spares in the car but it was all over by then. God does these things on purpose, ya know. He hates me.

Later, I'll copy all the stuff from the cameras to the comp and finish editing the Villages of the Manning tomorrow. Then I'll start the Chevy show and also shoot the Kombi fest on the weekend. Sheesh. Everything happens all at once, yeah?

I just had a quick snack to easy the tummy rumblings and then checked the Mt George footage. Yes, the kids are walking down the main (and only) street but the older one ducked off to the side and into the general store to buy something. When he emerged, I was busy shooting the scene on the other side. I didn't realize I was in this shot at the time... but only just. One of these days I should try that shot again and do a better job.

Time to shoot through again, Ls and Gs. Been a busy day. Gary

September 26, 2012. Steve W wrote: I don't wish to point out the bleeding obvious but (I will) …………this upcoming, next, soon approaching is in fact the October Long Weekend…….Monday being the 1st of October. Pedantic bastard aren't I?

Oh... roite... yes... well, there ya go. Put it down to dementia or something.

By the way, a couple of nice peeps signed the AO guestbook, which is cool... peeps I don't even know. The peeps I do know take me for granted. :-P

Sooooo, today is Nancy the Dentist day. When she told me over the phone that I had an exposed bone I was tempted to crack a Cody joke, but decided not to hehe. Looks like the tooth next to it is due for extraction, in which case I hope it solves the exposed bone prob because it irritates my tongue and makes it uncomfortable to chew food.

I almost didn't watch a show last night featuring Poh, an Australian/Malaysian chef, who volunteered to help out at St Vinnies preparing food for the homeless in Sydney. It was a very interesting as well as poignant story, and I'm glad I stayed the course. Poh joined a number of volunteers in the kitchen and then traveled in Fred's Van to the spot where the food is delivered at 7pm every day, and where the regulars wait. One of the volunteers used to be a street person until fairly recently. With a bit of help from the Vinnies people, he got back on his feet and decided to give something back in return. He had a serious gambling problem and ended up dead broke. He wanted to end it all but lacked the courage to do an injury to himself, so he drove his car out to a deserted spot and sat in it for 8 days without food or water, hoping to waste away and expire. He was eventually discovered by two passers by and taken to hospital.

Anyway, when Poh started talking to the homeless she began to realize they were pretty tired of sausages day after day after day. So she asked the Vinnies boss if she could whip up something more nutritious, with lots of vitamins and vegies. She ended up making burgers with the lot, plus a chocolate dessert... enough to feed a small army. The change in menu was met with great enthusiasm by the homeless peeps who enjoyed every last morsel and the promise of more variety after Poh shared her recipes with the volunteers. Nonetheless, in a modern and wealthy society like we have in Oz, it's perplexing that such misery and hopelessness exists, and you have to wonder how much of the blame rests with the people themselves. It's especially perplexing when you consider that some of the homeless include former professionals such as accountants, medicos, lawyers and the most unlikely of candidates. I was almost one of them just over a dozen years ago when I was booted out of my flat with nowhere to go except the street. That's when Lindsay, my neighbor at the time, knocked on my door on the final day and asked if I'd like to share a house he found with him and Sue. There but for the grace of God, yes?

The downside is that I missed out on all those free sausages and burgers.

Ray Rumble, the bloke who was supposed to phone yesterday phoned just now. Silly me told him I was pissed off with him because he didn't phone yesterday and had me waiting at home all day for no reason. So - typical radio announcer - he spent the next umpteen minutes explaining the reason he didn't call, which included finding an abandoned toy on the roadside which he took home and repaired for his grandson. Did I need to know all that? He's due here at 11 and we'll go for a beer. What's the bet I hardly get a word in? My appointment with the dentist is not until 12.45. I won't get a word in then either because my mouth will be jammed with all kinds of instruments and one of those horrible suction thingies.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama condemns violence and extremism as he addresses the UN General Assembly in New York. A lotta good that'll do. Preaching to the converted doesn't make one iota of difference to the ratbags. There's only one way to deal with extremists, and that's to be bigger, tougher, smarter, better armed and intolerant of their dumb ideology. Last night on the news there was a story of how the Taliban managed to sneak up on a British base in Afghanistan and destroy 6 Harrier fighter jets. The Brits were caught unawares. The allied forces there seem confident that the Afghan army and police will be able to maintain order and stability after the allied withdrawal in 2014 but I'm not.

An Egyptian newspaper launches a campaign against the obscene cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo. An Australian political cartoonist the other day gave the French cartoons the thumbs down - corny, trashy, unnecessary, unfunny, and a blatant attempt to incite trouble. She said they had no redeeming intellectual value at all, and that any magazine editor worth his salt would have not allowed them to be published. Freedom of speech may be the cornerstone of democracy, but so too is common sense.

Back from a couple of beers with Ray and my appointment with the dentist. Did I say I wouldn't get a word in at the dental surgery because my mouth would be full of instruments? I was kidding when I said that but it turned out to be the case. Nancy had to take a couple of photographs of the "exposed bone" and the offending tooth so I had two nurses holding the corners of my mouth open while various implements invaded my mouth and Nancy positioned her Nikon for the pics. "Can I have a pic of all you people holding me down like this?" I asked. "That would be a classic!" But I didn't get one.

Meanwhile, the tooth pulling exercise or whatever is now postponed until some specialist in Sydney checks out the photos.

As to Ray telling me about all his successes and everything else he could think of, including how his mother died and also his son of a severe epileptic fit, I did manage to get a word or two in edgewise, albeit with some difficulty. When he arrived out front, I walked to the car and said, "Is this a Ford?" Silly me. We sat in the car for 10 minutes while he told me the history of his Fords and how he bought them at auction. I was itching to say, "Jeez, the engine's quiet", but he didn't pause to let me crack the joke. By the time I did get the chance, it kinda fizzled. "I haven't started the engine yet," he finally said, and missed the point. I was beginning to worry that the pub would have sold outta beer by the time we got there.

He's a nice bloke, really, but one of those peeps who needs to tell you every damn detail of every story he relates. Still and all, I can't complain. He insisted on buying all the beers because he was "flush with funds" after being paid in cash by his client. He put his hand in his pocket and showed me a fistful of fifties. "I don't have a problem with money any more," he said. "Neither do I," I agreed. Hehe. "But for a different reason."

So there ya go... a blast from the past, 1976/7 to be precise. Not quite as far back as Steve W but pretty close. Steve goes back to '71.

Earlier, I mentioned being on the bones of my ass when Lindsay knocked on my door to ask if I'd like to share a house. I was a minute away from being on the street. After talking to Ray today, I'm wondering why it never entered my head to phone him and ask if he had a job going somewhere. He had all his fingers in a stack of pies at the time, and I'm sure he would have found something. I suppose I was so down at the time, I thought everyone had deserted me. Had I gone back into radio, things would have been very different now. And there's another thing I wonder about... would I have been better off if I had? I rather like the idea of the Odyssey, which I suspect would never have eventuated if I'd followed another path. Maybe there's something to be said for the old expression, everything turns out for the best.

Ray and his missus were into traveling Oz towing a caravan... not the whole kit and kaboodle but extensive trips to the outback and red center. He was telling me about an incident where he was driving towards Alice Springs, towing a caravan and driving fairly sedately, when the caravan started to sway. Then it jackknifed and ended up alongside the car before it toppled, taking the car with it which ended up on its roof. Luckily there was no traffic. In fact the place was deserted. They crawled from the wreckage and waited half an hour before an Aboriginal bloke came along. He had a satellite phone and called the cops in Alice Springs. Ray is not too keen on caravans any more, understandably. But I can't help wondering what really happened because there are thousands of caravans being towed by ordinary drivers all over Oz and it's pretty rare to hear of such an incident. I've heard a few reports of slide-ons getting the sways too. Maybe it's excessive speed or exceeding the gross vehicle mass (carrying capacity) or whatever, but it's something that concerns me. I've read quite a few comments on caravanning forums that recommend fitting air-bag suspension kits to the existing setup on utes carrying slide-ons. One thing's for sure, whatever ute I get must be capable of carrying a full ton.

And that's it for today, ladies and genitals. Tomorrow, I'll do a shoot of the vintage and veteran Chevrolet display at Wingham, and then toddle out to Mt George for another shoot. On the weekend, I'll shoot the Old Bar festival and Kombi show. Busy, busy, busy. Gary

September 25, 2012. I forgot to include a link NC Art sent to a NY Times article about Kevin McClatchy, a mover and shaker in major league baseball, coming out at age 50. However, I did send the link to Justin's Blog, which has attracted quite a few interesting comments, including one I just finished writing. It's a bit controversial and I'm wondering if Justin will publish it... it's a tad critical of people who choose to come out when they have little or nothing to lose. (As it happened, Justin posted it).

Meanwhile, TX Greg wrote: "strange men. Especially from Texas." hahahaha

Perhaps I shouldn't be doing math this early, hehe. Ok you said your wage is $1,161, which would be $13,932 a year. But then you say your a "bit over twenty grand" So where am I losing the plot and the extra 6 grand?

Weeeeeell, Greggie poo, the BBC converter thingy converts Oz (and all other) dollars to its version of international dollars so that it can compare my income with the rest of the world's on the same basis... or something like that. My pension looks pretty flash compared to the international average (78%) but my problem is I live in Oz where my spending power is restricted to 44% of the national average income. When I go to McDonalds, I order half a Big Mac and 13 fries. When I hail a taxi I only travel half way to my destination. When I buy milk at the supermarket I tip half of it out before I take it to the checkout. Hehe.

And now to something completely different... a lily from my garden. Each spring they pop up from a bulb to say g'day:

How's the traffic in your town? Here's an article from the Beeb: Next time you complain about being stuck in traffic, spare a thought for the drivers in Brazil's biggest city, which has some of the worst congestion problems in the world. Friday evenings are a commuter's worst nightmare in Sao Paulo.

Strange as it may seem, we don't get that kinda thing in Taree. Sometimes at around 5 in the afternoon, I see traffic banked back about a block, but that's it. And it takes about 5 minutes to clear.

And how about this for a bizarre accident in Brazil?

I hadn't realized the extent to which Australians back in the 30s supported Nazi ideals and Hitler. While I was showering and shaving, I listened to a program called Conversations with Richard Fidler who spoke with the author of a new book called Nazi Dreamtime. It's fascinating. The conversations are archived here on the ABC website but it's probably a bit early for the Nazi one... it only aired today. Well worth checking out the site though.

Good evening and welcome to the show. I couldn't think of anything else to write so I wrote that. But I'm reminded of back when I was a breakfast announcer on radio... I used to say good evening just to confuse people, and refer to them as viewers.

How come people say things like "I'll phone you when I arrive in Taree" but fail to say what time. It means I can't go to the loo or whatever because the phone could ring any time. Call a plumber and the same thing happens. The nearest to a particular time of arrival is either AM or PM. Even when you do get a specific time, like a doctor's appointment, you arrive on time and then sit in the waiting room for an hour twiddling your thumbs. Every now and then, the doc appears to call the next patient, and it's never you.

I just splurged $20 on a spirit level on eBay. Some of those damn things are worth a fortune! I just need a simple one for the camper to check the level when I park. According to the Electrolux fridge manual, a spirit level was supplied. Yeah, right. That was 30 years ago.

While chatting to Stan the Lawn Man earlier, quite a few vintage cars drove past... like the one I saw the other day towing a caravan. So just now I checked the events calendar at Taree City Council. The show and shine was on last Sunday in Taree, dammit! But not to worry. The cars are touring much of the area and will be at Wingham Central Park on Thursday from noon. That's the day I set aside for the Mt George shoot, and Wingham is on the way there, so it all fits together nicely. Two vids for the price of one! The old Chevrolets date from the 1920s through to the 1980s so it should be a good show. I'll use the bigger Fuji with a lens hood for the cars because the smaller Fuji (which I'll use for Mt George) has a problem with flare from shiny chrome, paint and glass.

Good job I checked the calendar because I thought the Old Bar Festival and Kombi show was on the October long weekend but it's not... it's on this weekend, September 29/30. Gazza's gonna be a busy boy!

And what's the forecast for the weekend? Rain Saturday, mostly sunny Sunday. Oh well, nuthin's poifect.

And what's happened to my mate from Sydney? Buggered if I know. It's after 4pm and he hasn't called yet... and I've been stuck here all day. I HATE THAT! My old radio mate who bought the Sony camera was the same. He emailed to say he'd be here "Thursday or Friday" of last week. Sheesh. Actually, the phone rang just now. It was the dentist reminding me of my appointment tomorrow, so I told her I could hardly wait. "I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled I am," I said. Yeah, right.

Well, bugger Rumble, the bloke who was supposed to call today. Shop's closed. And it's time once again for me to say hooroo for another day and attend to matters domestic. Gary

September 24, 2012. Monday already. I spent part of this morning editing the Coopernook footage and tacking it onto the end of Tinonee and Croki. One more to go, Mt George. I was going to whizz out there today but it's a bit late now. And I have an old radio mate visiting tomorrow. He's driving up from Sydney. Wednesday is tooth extraction day so that's out. How's the weather on Thursday looking? Fine and 26C. Hopefully, there'll be a train passing through for a bit of excitement. The local railway station asked me to "phone back tomorrow at midday and I'll ask one of the drivers" for an approximate time hehe. So that leaves Friday to edit the final footage and upload it to Youtube before September comes to an end.

I also raided the kitchen draws for stuff I can use in the camper. The gas stove has a grill compartment but no grill tray, so I checked the pots and pans cupboard to see what lurks therein. Ah ha! A flat tray with 1" sides. All it needs now is a wire rack that fits inside. They call them cooling racks for cooling scones, cakes, bread, etc after baking, but they're also ideal for use as a grilling rack. I've got one already but I need a slightly smaller one. Grilled cheese and tomato on toast comin' up.

I meant to mention yesterday that I walked outside and saw a late '30s Oldsmobile towing a similar vintage caravan. And where was the camera? Inside. Drat! The driver and his wife looked as though they were in their '70s, and I'll bet they were having the time of their lives. 

Back then, in '38, the world was about to go totally nutz, but Mercedes Benz was more interested in creating something beautiful:

From the Beeb: Voters in Switzerland have rejected a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places at a referendum. In Oz if you light up a ciggie, you're likely to be vaporized by a lurking drone. 

If you were asked to move all your worldy goods from inside your home to the outside for a photo, what would it look like? Consumerism in China hasn't reached the standard of consumerism in western countries - yet - so it's interesting to see what many Chinese still regard as normal. Check this story from the Beeb: Chinese families' worldly goods in Huang Qinqjun's pictures.

How does my monthly age pension rate in the great scheme of things? Your wage is $1,161. The world average is $1,480. Your wage is 44% of the Australia average and 78% of the world average. Hmmm. No wonder I'm not rich. My figures are calculated by a graph on a Beeb story about "Where are you on the global pay scale?" You can try it out here for yourself.

Actually, the average full-time adult total earnings of $1400+ a week in Oz is not strictly average. It includes people in the top brackets, earning tens of thousands and more. Only 4.5 per cent of Australian adults have an income that exceeds $100,000 per year, and only 1.5 per cent have an income that exceeds $150,000 per year (2006). The mean income of drinkers in a pub goes through the roof if Bill Gates walks through the door, but the typical drinker has become no better off. Half of all Australian taxpayers had taxable incomes below $44 222 in 2008-09. 

So, what is the median equivalised disposable income of Australian households? The median equivalised disposable household income for Australia in 2007-08 was $36 082 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and $35 664 according the Melbourne Institute’s HILDA survey.

This means a single person, living alone, would need around $36 000 in disposable income to sustain the typical Australian’s standard of living. Following a widely-accepted methodology, each additional adult adds $18 000 to this figure, so a childless couple would need a disposable income of $54 000 a year to enjoy a median standard of living. Each child adds $10 800 to this figure. A couple family with two children would therefore have needed $75 600 disposable income in 2007-08 to have the same standard of living as the typical Australian. 

I heard on telly recently some journo on a news discussion program say that the "typical" wage for an ordinary Aussie was about $600+ a week.

So where does all this leave me, an age pensioner on a bit over twenty grand? Well, if I don't go to clubs or pubs or the cinema or restaurants, or take vacations, rent videos, buy clothes (unless they're on special or from an op shop), and do my own cooking, I can get by. Hehe.

Well, there I was a while ago thinking I had nothing to say. And now it's time to think about feeding this skinny old bod to keep it going and watch a bit of telly. Tomorrow I'll get an earful from my old radio colleague, telling me how successful he's been hehe. Oh well... Until then, keep your legs together and don't speak to any strange men. Especially from Texas. Gary

September 23, 2012. Today is the day Oregon Richie and Becky exchange rings and swap vows (or whatever they're called these days) at a small ceremony in a park not far from the cruise ship they boarded yesterday. How romantic! I'll bet Becky is thrilled to see Richie wearing something other than a tee and a pair of Nikes for a change.

60 years ago, there was a little girl a few doors down from my house who used to invite me to share tea and scones in her backyard. They weren't real tea and scones, but little plastic cups of water poured from a plastic teapot and imaginary scones on a plastic plate... part of her play tea set. It was fun to play grown ups. But that's as close as I got to the real thing. I don't remember us playing doctors and nurses. If we did, it can't have been a memorable experience. Anyway, 6 decades on and here I am playing with real teapots and kettles and assorted kitchen utensils in my camper. 

Speaking of which, TX Greg wrote: We could always order more (coffee mugs) if you wanted to give some out to peeps along your travels. I think they said they keep the original photo copy on file for reorders :)  Or could do something different like A/O hats, shirts, key chains, pens etc.

Sheesh, that sounds like I'm running for President! I suppose it's possible for AO to become a business enterprise one day but I doubt it. I have no plans in that direction. I prefer just to do my own thing at my own pace without the pressure of running a business. I could handle a bit of sponsorship provided I still call the shots... like back in my Kelly's Copy Shop days when I often lunched with clients provided they paid the bill. Hehe. I figured it was me doing them a favor and not the other way around.

BTW> Did you ever figure out or see how to work google street view from the maps? And if you do get time that google earth is pretty awesome!

Yep, I've used street view quite a few times to check out various places I used to live as well as those of friends and rellos. Haven't tried Google Earth though, but I know Ohio Jace is a big fan.

NC Art commented on the Obama and Romney walks: Yes, Art has noticed Romney’s peculiar stride, or more of a jerky step. It is odd for a fairly tall guy and causes me to wonder if he is a mechanical creation with metal legs made for a another model. Seems the Muslim folks in Oz may be less intimidated by fanatics than in the U.S. of A. Only an occasional quiet murmur is voiced about anti-West demonstrations and riots. But what else is odd about this whole thing boggles the mind. Pretty certain we don’t understand each other, eh? 
    Logic, fact, reason are all useless. And it isn’t just Islamists. A totally committed Southern Baptist is just as dense. Once I had a two-hour discussion with a normally reasonable chap about Biblical writing, translating, word meaning evolution and such. When we parted he simply claimed that every word in the Bible was clear and true because it was written by God Himself. He didn’t know a word of Aramaic, Greek, Latin, or any of the dialects spoken a thousand years ago. Oh, and of course Mary of Magdala was a wonderful woman...but only after Jesus turned her from prostitution and forgave her. He was deaf to my suggestion that it was a bunch of Roman Catholic old men who rigged the scriptures to defame the name of the Magdalene. Those old farts couldn’t abide women meddling in affairs of state.
    And we wonder why nuttiness is the rule instead of the exception! 

We do? I'm not sure I do. The average IQ is not called average cos it's high, ya know. Which reminds me of an interview I saw with a piano tuner last night on telly. The ranks are thinning and there's a program in place to recruit more apprentices before the old guys conk out. The tuner - who has been tuning old pianos for 40 years - says you can take a bunch of youngsters and train them to be reasonable plumbers or carpenters or mechanics, but not so piano tuners.

There was also a story about a glass blower from Tasmania who does the most amazing things with blobs of molten glass, and creates the most exquisite works of art. He's an old bloke now and there's a worry that there's no one to replace him when he retires.

Another story that was interesting was about cocoa grown in Oz. Cadbury initiated the idea back in the '80s to grow our own and got the financial support of several state governments. But the area where cocoa trees grew best was North Queensland. Cadbury eventually lost interest because the industry could never support a large business, so they left it to the small farmers to carry on. And carry on they did. Australian grown chocolate is now a thriving industry in Oz, albeit it small. We produce about 10 tons annually at the mo, with plans to increase the output. But it will always be a niche market compared to the thousands of tons produced by the rest of the world's cocoa growers. Nonetheless, the Oz producers have plans to export their product to Europe, America and Asia. High labor costs in Oz mean that the producers keep everything in house... the growing, harvesting (by hand), manufacturing, packaging and distribution. The brand is Daintree Estates.

So here we are plagiarizing something that is not indigenous to Oz. We also did that with wool, and now beef and wine. But it also goes the other way, ya know. Macadamia nuts are indigenous to Oz but China has plans to increase production and become the biggest in the world! And there's nothing we can do about it.

BTW, back to the Obama stride and the Romney trot, here's a pic on Red Bubble of a horse that reminds me of those two. The front legs are Obama and the rear Romney. Mieke (Meekey) spent a week at a cattle station in the Kimberley and had a great time taking photos. She even got a ride in the station's helicopter for some spectacular aerials. And what about this for a shot? Horse and steer playing a game of bluff.

From the Beeb: A Pakistani government minister who offered a $100,000 reward for the death of the maker of an anti-Islamic film is condemned by the prime minister's spokesman. And so he should be. Like so many fanatics, the Pakistani government minister is an advocate of closed minds. In my book, open minds have nothing to dear. Closed minds do.

Back from Coopernook and a bit of camera pointing. It's one of a number of villages in the Manning Valley by-passed by the Pacific Hwy and left to die. But many of the villages, such as Coopernook, are proving to be quite resilient with new houses being built and lots of people at the riverside Coopernook pub for Sunday lunch. Since I was there a few years ago, the river frontage has been improved with a new wharf and grassed area on the bank, and the old wharf is now preserved as a monument to the town's past.

On the way back, I took another pano of the Croki riverfront park and swimming pool and got it right this time. However, just as I took the 3rd frame (far right) a duck took off and flew towards the boat shed. Dammit, I missed it by a second.

It's been a lovely Sunday, warm and sunny, so I'm glad I made good use of it and did the Coopernook shoot. Sometime during the week I'll do Mt George and that'll be enough for this vid. I might do another one of more villages and small towns on the Manning next month as well as the VW Kombi Fest on the October long weekend.

Meanwhile, it's that time again. Remember those little pork/veal meatballs I made a while back? I froze half the mixture so I'll make some more and add condensed mushroom soup and chopped tomatoes with ginger and corianda (Moroccan style) in foil packages... have one tonight and freeze the rest. Hooroo for now! Gary

September 22, 2012. Am I the only one who's noticed the way Romney walks? Is he trying to do a Bette Midler with those short steps? By contrast, Obama takes long strides. And what does NC Art think about it all? As I was reading today’s blog a portly political shaker blathered on about Obama’s class warfare. I was almost frightened by the prospect of stevedores and grease monkeys expecting single malt scotch at road houses and honky tonk bars. Oh the horror! But he made his point. The warfare has gone on quite awhile with wealth flowing up and up from the bottom, but nothing much manages to flow downhill! Not even clean water to dilute the scotch whiskey!

Art also sent this link to the latest Borowitz report and a Letter from Ann Romney. It's rascals like Borowitz that keeps me semi-sane as our politicians posture and huff and puff.

Yes, indeed, we need our Borowitzs to maintain balance, otherwise everything would be taken too seriously. Political cartoonists, satirists, comedians, critics and all people involved in taking the mickey out of society's sacred cows is vital to maintaining a balanced view. Moderates don't mind being the butt of jokes; they're happy to accept it in good humor. It's those on the far right and far left who are ultra sensitive to criticism, whether in jest or otherwise. Ya know, I can't help wondering if extremist Muslims are, deep down, skeptical of their own beliefs. I mean, if they seriously believe in all they claim to believe, then why carry on like lunatics when some dickhead criticises Mohammed? Why the ultra sensitivity? Isn't that a sign of insecurity? When a person truly believes in something, criticism is water off a duck's back. It's when they harbor secret doubts about the validity of their cause, that criticism becomes offensive.

One placard carried by a fist-waving Muslim protester at the riot in Sydney last weekend read, Our Dead are in Paradise, Your Dead are in Hell. Oh really? How does he know? Has he been there? No wonder people who make such idiotic and irrational claims are insecure. And if they're not basically insecure, then there's only one other explanation. Hehe.

TX Greg sent a link to Youtube vid that explains why I get views in the hundreds while other peeps get views in the millions, such as this 2.5 million hit vid of an iguana farting in a bathtub. Point taken, Greg. Hehe.

How much for a 16cm stainless-steel saucepan with glass lid and steam vent? $7.50 sound reasonable to you? It was part of a bunch of stuff on a trolley going out at special prices. I saved about 15 bucks on that little gem. They don't call me Hawk Eye for nuthin' ya know. I also bought a 1.8ltr s/s whistling kettle, a set of 4 plastic tea/coffee mugs, a set of 4 plastic tumblers (drinking glasses), a set of cotton tea towels, an oven mitt, and a 16-piece s/s patterned cutlery set all for $43, making a total of $50-ish. I figure if I buy a bit here and there, it won't rock the budget as much as buying everything I need all at once.

BTW, Greg, the Aussie Odyssey mugs you so graciously donated to the cause some time ago are strictly for show. I don't want them stained by tea or coffee.

I also bought a few groceries, so that takes care of the shopping for a while. And now it's time for a wrap. Gary

Friday 21, 2012. There's nothing unusual about seeing people hanging their washing on the line to dry, right? Unless it's in a caravan park. People stay at caravan parks to get away from all that domestic chore stuff. To take a break from the hum drum. To relax and laze about, sunbaking or throwing a line into the water. But doing the laundry? That's what a couple was doing at the Croki caravan park the other day. 

Perhaps it's not so much about what you're doing as where you're doing it. The thing I remember most about the first camping holiday I had with my folks and younger bro at a resort called Blue Lagoon, an hour north of Sydney on the Central Coast, is that everywhere you walked you walked on sand - barefoot, of course. We were right on the beach. It was as different to our normal suburban environment as it was possible to get. A tent instead of a house, sandy tracks instead of concrete footpaths, lots of gum trees and tall palms instead of neat lawns and garden, no school, and a beach right outside our door. Blue Lagoon is still there 60 years later, albeit more sophisticated these days, but still there.

So what happens if I camp somewhere on the Odyssey and think, "Oh, this is nice. I'll stay here for a while." And that while turns out to be a couple of years hehe. Nah. I don't think that will happen. Possible, but not likely.

From the Beeb: Pakistani TV channels are airing an advert showing news clips of US President Barack Obama condemning an anti-Islam film made in the US. The advert also features a statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a news conference rejecting the amateur film's message. The adverts seek to emphasise the message reiterated by US officials throughout the crisis: that the "disgusting" film was not made by the US government, but that there is never any justification for violence. State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed the US spent $70,000 (£43,220) to air the 30-second clip on seven Pakistani TV stations.

Dammit. Just as the fundamentalists are starting to have fun, the US posts a disclaimer that ruins everything. Actually, here in Oz the vast majority of Muslim leaders denounced the actions of fundamentalists last weekend and warned that if it happens again, they will support Australian police in having the perpetrators arrested and jailed. On the other hand, white supremacists in Oz are threatening to confront Islamic radicals in an all-out brawl that will make the Cronulla riots of a few years ago look like a picnic. I'm afraid Islam doesn't have a monopoly on dickheads.

Speaking of dickheads: Members of an Amish breakaway group are found guilty of hate crimes for forcibly cutting the beards and hair of community members last year in Ohio. 

When you read about all the crap that goes on in the world on a daily basis, dear Breth, you need to remember that ordinary, sane people like you and me who make up the vast majority of humanity, don't make the news. Our dull lives are not considered newsworthy.

Meanwhile, In Oz, the Senate has joined the House of Representatives in voting down legislation aimed at allowing same-sex couples to marry. On Wednesday, just 42 MPs in the Lower House supported a private members bill put forward by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones while 98 MPs voted against. I keep hearing opponents of marriage equality saying that marriage is between a man and a woman exclusively. And why is that, do you think? Mainly because bigots refuse to change it! This is a democracy with a secular government. It's not a theocracy. And yet religious views seem to dominate the marriage equality agenda. If churches wish to discriminate, that's their business. But it's not the government's business to discriminate. The government's business is to adhere to the wishes of the majority of its constituents. Only 30% of Australians are opposed to marriage equality. 50% approve and the rest couldn't give a damn.

Yesterday, the NSW state government made a formal apology to all women who had their babies forcibly removed for adoption back in 50s, 60s and 70s. It also apologized to the adoptees. The reason those women were deprived of their basic human right to keep their babies was because, shock, horror, they became pregnant out of wedlock. They were considered to be unfit mothers, and their babies were stolen. It was unacceptable that babies should be born out of wedlock. Decades on, the government is now apologizing for the "shameful" conduct of previous governments. And yet they can't see the same thing happening in another decade or two when a future government has to apologize for disallowing same-sex couples to marry. IT'S THE SAME THING. DISCRIMINATION. But the dickheads can't see it.

And now we have the head of The Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace, declaring that homosexuality is unhealthier than smoking. Can you believe it? He's supposed to be an intelligent man! And last night on telly he said that homosexuality is a sin. He's insulting not only all Australian gays and lesbians but also their parents, siblings, lovers and friends. He was sitting at his boardroom table with a bunch of his cohorts leading them in prayer to God. Is it the same God that gays pray to? The same God that non-bigoted people pray to? Apparently not. The God that Jim Wallace prays to agrees with Jim's views. How convenient to have such an obliging God.

Well, there ya go. My spleen feels much better now. The guy who bought my Sony camera and accessories phoned to say he's on his way here. He lives in Bondi but travels around the place a bit. Anyway, he's the same bloke I used to work with at 2DAY FM in Sydney back in the mid '80s. I've also met him a few times at the Taree mall. Small world, huh? He said he was in the States some years ago and bought a Sony like the one I have for $2200 duty free. Somebody's kid knocked it off a table and broke it, so he's been looking for a replacement ever since. He said he bid up to $150 but the bidding didn't get that high, so he ended up getting mine for $90. Sheesh. Oh well...

Well, he's been and gone. The only reason he's in Bondi is because he cares for his mother who's blind. He also has a house not far out of Taree on 4 acres...lots of birds, trees and peace and quiet. He says Sydney is a horrible place now, too much traffic, way too frantic. I suppose it is in certain places but I didn't find that when I was there during the cancer op and checkups with the doc. I stayed away from the burbs and spent most of my time wandering around the harbor foreshore. He says Bondi has changed for the worse. It's full of Russians. "Hardly anybody speaks English! All the old art deco buildings are being demolished in favor of high-rise apartments," he laments. "My mother lives in a block of 40 and there are only two of us (residents) who speak English!" Jeez, fancy that... of all places Bondi, once the quintessential embodiment of all things Aussie.

I figured out something today... how to stop stuff in the camper cupboards from banging about during transit. A while back, a bloke gave me a boxed set of 2 stainless steel mugs and a vacuum flask. They're in the camper now, still in the box, except the lid's underneath (upside down) with the open box sitting neatly therein. And guess what the box does? Stops the contents from rattling around. Yeah? So all the cups and plates and various kitchen utensils I buy will be boxed. Ya with me? Loose stuff will go into those cheap boxes you buy from the Post Office. I've already got a couple that were used to ship various items I bought on eBay. Just the right size for cans, herbs, small bottles, etc... and also loose items in the fridge.

Vanishing time again, Ls and Gs. Planet America is on tonight so that'll be interesting to watch, and for dinner I think I'll rustle up some scrambled eggs with cheese on toast. Not exactly T-bone territory but it'll do. Gary

Thursday 20, 2012. Another lovely spring day! In a few days from now, Oregon Richie and his bride will be saying their 'I do's' and September 23rd will never be the same again. He wrote this morning to say he's having difficulty concentrating on things at work. I'm not surprised! For they are jolly good fellows, for they are jolly good fellows, for they are jolly good feeee-heeee-loooooooooooows.... aaaaaaaand so say all of us!

Yes, marriage and Odysseys. They have something in common ya know, as in a definitive separation of past and future. The question I keep asking myself is: Will it feel like home in the camper? I suppose it will eventually but I can imagine being camped somewhere as a newbie traveler and thinking as the sun begins to set, I better make tracks and get home before dark. Hehe. It's gonna be soooo strange to realize that I'm already home and that I can stay there as long as I like. That, for all intents and purposes, the little patch of land I currently occupy is MINE for as long as I choose to stay there. Know what I mean? We spend our entire lives leaving and returning home - from work, from visiting rellos and friends, from vacation, from shopping, from wherever. Pretty soon I'm gonna know what it's like to be a tortoise... except a tortoise doesn't have a fridge and cooker.

Did you see that story on telly the other day about those two high-wire people who broke the world record for walking a wire stretched across two impossibly high points above a valley, with no safety net? Keeeerazy! But the Odyssey will be a bit like that in terms of reaching the point of no return.

Well, that's Croki edited. Didn't take long. I think Coopernook and Mt George will be enough. Most of the other places around the Manning are towns rather than villages. The vid is 5 minutes so far (Tinonee and Croki), which surprises me because they're only tiny places.

You know those tricky little toolkits for the kitchen... a screwdriver handle with several bits and a fitting to hold them, a bunch of allen keys, mini screwdrivers for really fiddly things, pliers (regular and longnose), etc? I bought a set ages ago for a few bucks and just put it in the camper kitchen draw. I like doing that because each time I put something in the camper it becomes more "me"... a place with my things in it. Then I sat there for a while and buggerized around, figuring out where stuff would go. I separated the main door from the screen door and thought how cool it would be to lock all the bugs outside while I'm cooking or eating or sleeping - enjoying the fresh air without the bzzzz. All the door and window screens are in good nick. All the window winders work fine as well as the roof hatch winder.

From the Beeb: A US actress who appeared in an amateur anti-Islam video that sparked protests across the Muslim world is suing the film's suspected director. Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into a "hateful" film that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie. She is also asking a judge to order YouTube to remove the film. A clip dubbed into Arabic provoked widespread anger for its mocking portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. According to Ms Garcia, the script she received had made no mention of the Prophet Muhammad or made references to religion. She claims she has received death threats since the video was posted to YouTube, and says her association with the film has harmed her reputation. In a court filing lodged with Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Ms Garcia alleged fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Harmed her reputation, huh? Yeah, right. 

On QI last night (repeat episode), a question was asked about corn flakes and what their original purpose was. One guest said they were used to fill the mattresses of monks to stop them masturbating because of all the noise hehe. He was wrong about the monks but right about masturbation. The original Mr Kellogg was obsessed with preventing masturbation, which he believed caused acne, a variety of serious ailments and even death.. He also believed that a diet of corn, wheat and other grains played a role in reducing the urge to commit acts of self abuse. When, by accident, he discovered the process that turned corn into flakes, he hit upon the idea of creating a breakfast cereal that was not only nutritious but also eliminated the impulse to masturbate. It obviously wasn't a problem for Cody because he had a habit of "sorting himself out" before breakfast.

Speaking of corn, here's a Beeb story about popcorn: A US man has been awarded $7.2m (£4.4m) in damages after claiming he developed "popcorn lung" from inhaling the artificial butter in microwave popcorn. A Colorado jury agreed with Wayne Watson that a popcorn manufacturer should have had warning labels that the bag's fumes were dangerous to inhale. "Popcorn lung" is a form of irreversible obstructive lung disease that scars the lung and makes it difficult for air to flow out.

Also from the Beeb: An ancient scrap of papyrus makes explicit reference to Jesus having a wife, according to a renowned expert in Christian history. Harvard divinity professor Karen King unveiled the 4th-Century Coptic script at a conference in Rome. She said researchers had identified the words "Jesus said to them, 'my wife'", which might refer to Mary Magdalene. Christian tradition holds that Jesus did not marry - but Ms King said in early years it was subject to debate. The provocative find could spark debate over celibacy and the role of women within Christianity, she added. But the announcement sparked scepticism from some theologians.

Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, said: "A statement on a papyrus fragment isn't proof of anything. It's nothing more than a statement 'in thin air', without substantial context." Wolf-Peter Funk, a noted Coptic linguist attending the same conference as Ms King, said there were "thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things," and many questions remained about the fragment.

I see. Many questions about those particular fragments but not about the fragments upon which the Bible itself is based. How do you figure that? Seems like selective questioning to me.

Guess what? Another day is about to slip into the abyss of time. Funny about time isn't it. Now is now, yesterday was now, and all the yesterdays that ever existed were now, just as tomorrow will be now, and all the tomorrows after that. I was thinking about that as I gazed out the window of the camper today and saw what is there now. But one day, I'll be sitting on the same seat in the same camper, gazing out the same window but the view will be very much different. And yet it will still be now. I can remember being in English class at school and intrigued by expressions such as "will have been". Weird, huh? Gary

Wednesday 19, 2012. A perfect spring day! And I'm glad to be alive. Which is probably a dumb thing to say because I have no idea how I'd feel about the alternative.

I found some interesting stuff on an auto newsgroup this morning, including this newspaper/magazine article about the release of the 1946 "People's Car".

19 years later in 1965 I bought mine brand new off the showroom floor for 950 pounds ($1900). By then they'd already sold millions around the world.

I also found this wonderful example of a tricked up 1960 Ford Econovan fitted out with a genuine timber-lined cargo area for camping. Very nicely done.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has rebuked Republican rival Mitt Romney, saying that anyone seeking to be president needs to work for all Americans. Mr Obama told chat show host David Letterman said Mr Romney was wrong to describe 47% of Americans as "victims". Here's the video clip.

And this: The highest-resolution camera ever built has begun its quest to pin down the mysterious stuff that makes up nearly three-quarters of our Universe. The Dark Energy Survey's 570-million-pixel camera will scan some 300 million galaxies in the coming five years. The goal is to discover the nature of dark energy, which is theorised to be responsible for the ever-faster expansion of the Universe. What's the bet there'll be no photograph of the "Kingdom of God?" Lack of evidence won't stop the believers, though. They don't need evidence.

NC Art wrote in response to tall vehicles: Right you are about whizzing around corners with that rig. Here’s one I witnessed. A top down convertible was stopped at a corner signal light. A Jeep pulling a flat 2-wheel trailer cut the corner to turn into street where car was halted.  A wheel of trailer hit  the kerb [curb] bounced the trailer skyward. As driver accelerated the trailer did a fancy upward spin and over, falling smack on the stopped convertible. That driver did what came naturally and flopped to the floor. Unhurt but scared shitless and in a rage horrid to behold.

An accident in Oz recently involved a 33 y/o bloke stopped at an intersection traffic light on his way to work one morning. A truck carrying a large shipping container turned the corner too fast causing the container to topple over onto the stationary car, killing the driver instantly. He was married with a child. You just never know... Meanwhile, there's been a government crackdown on shipping containers with unsecured loads in danger of shifting under stress.

Years ago, I was traveling behind a car towing a box trailer on a narrow road when the outside wheel suddenly separated from the trailer. The trailer dipped while the wheel bounced and spun all over the road as I began to catch up to it quite quickly. Pretty scary there for a minute or two until the wheel lost momentum and came to rest at the side of the road. It took a while for the driver of the car to realize what had happened before he finally pulled over. Good thing there was no oncoming traffic. Always expect the unexpected, yes?

A big yellow parcel arrived at the front door. Now what could that possibly be? My sleeping bag? Yes! One more small step...

BACK from the Croki (croak-eye) shoot. Nice day but a tad windy, which plays havoc with the microphone. The village was the center of growth in the Manning Valley between 1830 and 1930 but declined with the introduction of rail, better roads and better modes of transport. Now it's a tiny village of maybe 30 or 40 residents and no shop. But it does have a caravan park! I had intended to travel a little further up the highway to a few other "abandoned" villages but the wind was too strong and it was getting a bit late. Another day.

Not a lot to shoot in Croki so I'll edit the footage tomorrow and tack it on the end of Tinonee (Tin-oh-knee). The giant Moreton Bay fig above is one of several around the river-front picnic area and wharf. They provide abundant shade on hot summer days. There's also a netted swimming pool in the river. The old timber wharf is still there, kept as a memento of the past, but access is not permitted due to its dilapidated condition.

I'll have to do that pano again cos I didn't quite match the top of the pole on the left and the horizon just above the right hand corner of the old wharf. Dangit. See that little farmouse directly opposite the new wharf between the two poles? It's not so little. I dunno how wide the Manning River is at that point but it's a bloody long, long way over there.

Nancy, my dentist, phoned today to say she's had no luck getting in touch with the Sydney dentist who specializes in teeth affected by radiation therapy. Anyway, she's gonna press on regardless and see me next Wednesday for a possible extraction. Apparently there's a bit of exposed bone. Eeek! I need another filling as well.

And here we are again, ladies and genitals, time to roll the credits. What's for dinner? All those in favor of pancakes with sliced peaches say aye. Hmmm, one. All those against? One, two, three, four... hmmmm... fifty seven. They ayes have it... the motion is carried in favor of the ayes. And the nays can go to buggery. Gary

September 18, 2012. Chewsdee. And a nice one... sunny and bright. Later this morning I'll start work on editing the Tinonee footage. The other vids - Taree, Sydney, Holden show and steam loco - are all over 100 views now, and some are approaching 150. Not many for some people but I'm happy with the response so far. There are 365 days in a year ya know, and if they keep getting 1 or 2 new views a day, well go figure.

From the Beeb: Hassan Nasrallah. the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah party, denounces an anti-Islam film in a rare public appearance, as protests continue in many countries. I keep hearing people saying that the film is amateur trash and a non-event. Apparently, most (if not all) of the protesters in Sydney on the weekend hadn't even seen it. Seems to me these fanatics are using the film as an excuse to vent their bigoted spleens. If they were true to their religion they would preach God's love not God's hate. Bloody dickheads.

Have you heard of Alexander Gardner, the Scot who shot the civil war (in America)? Here's a slide show of his photographs on the Beeb with captions.

There's a Toyota HiLux tray-back ute parked out front so I measured the height of the tray - a bit under 3'. The camper with the extra storage box underneath is about 7' high, so we're looking at the combined height of the unit at 10' from ground level. Whoa! I don't think I'll be whizzing around any corners or negotiating rough 4WD tracks. I suspect driving that rig will take a bit of getting used to.

Maybe I could get some driving lessons from an experienced driver.

Well, that was easy. I spent about 2 hours editing the Tinonee footage and stills into 2.5 minutes of video and then saved it to .wmv. So when I shoot the next village I'll just tack it on the end. No wukkers. Wild footage always looks a bit scruffy in bits and pieces but when it's edited and given a few nice transitions it all makes sense.

More from the Beeb: A secretly filmed video has emerged showing Mitt Romney disparaging Barack Obama voters at a private donor dinner. The Republican nominee is shown saying the 47% of Americans who back the president do not pay income tax and would never vote for him. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Mr Romney says. In a late-night appearance, Mr Romney said his remarks were not "elegantly stated", but did not retract them.

You hear that Richie? You don't pay income tax and you don't take personal responsibility for your life. That goes for you too, Art and Jace and anyone else who votes Democratic.

Well, dear Breth, I'm afraid that's all the Waffle I have for you today. Richie wrote recently to tell me about his day: So today has been quite the race around the track... out before noon to do some bank work, light shopping, wash the Jeep, get a hair trim, come home and go for an hour or so ride on the (Honda) 599 and THEN finish with the Jeep, as well as doing Becky's LR Freelander, get my portable generator going again, which was a mess with old fuel, sediment, and what-not but got 'er running finally and let it run for 90 minutes, while doing a quick mulch mowing of the yard, a bit of line trimmer grass trimming, service and pump up the bike tires on Becky's bicycle, chat with her, read a while, drain our small pool, do some laundry, and... it's still going on !

He's gotta be kidding, right? I wouldn't do that much stuff in a week! So I wrote back and explained how I've gotten laziness down to a fine art these days. I'm very good at it. I can imagine myself at the blocks of a sprint race. I'd be the one sitting in a camp chair doing my nails when the bloke fires his starter's pistol.

Maybe I could leave you with Dylan Moran's view of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his political aspirations. Seeyaz tomorrow. Gary

September 17, 2012. Did you check out the link to the story SF Bill sent of the American in Oz? Coincidentally, I spotted (and favorited) this shot of the Blue Mountains by a Red Bubbler this morning. The rays from a sunset hitting the cliff wall make this pic outstanding, and demonstrate once again that the time of day can make a world of diff to a photo. As a kid, high in the branches of my tree in the backyard, I could see the Blue Mountains in the distance. They're part of The Great Dividing Range which stretches from Victoria in the south all the way up the eastern seaboard of Oz and beyond to a group of small islands just north of the mainland. I drove over it on my way to Tamworth a while back to collect the dreaded Das Busse.

On the other hand, Oz also has scenes like this one.

A bloke from New Jersey wrote an entry in Cody's guestbook to say how much he enjoyed reading the Steve story, and that he had learned a lot from it. Yep, even 10 years down the track, the story is still having an effect on people, which pleases me. I've always thought that story is up there with some of the greatest ever told. Who could ever forget those scenes in Joburg being greeted by Mark's fist and then turning the relationship around completely. And those scenes in the boxing ring with Winger as coach hehe. Great stuff.

TX Greg wrote to say he was tempted to write an entry in the Odyssey guestbook but could only think of advising me to pack plenty of sugar in the camper hehe. Yeah, right. He also suggested I test the guestbook after all those changes yesterday to see if it still works okay. I did, and it does. It could be vulnerable to spam and nasties so, yes, I also know how to delete offensive entries.

Greg also mentioned Google maps and other goodies: Now that was the first time you used the zoom feature in google maps? Have you used the street view? See above the zoom bar there is a stick person. Zoom down to where you see street names then left click and hold on the stick person and drag him out to the map. The streets that the car has been down will light up in blue and then drop the stick guy on the street and spot you want to see. 

So have you seen or downloaded Google Earth? That does soooo many things including weather radar, retime traffic, and even 3D buildings!!! The other cool thing on google earth is with an account you can actually upload your photos of places and pin them to the map for others to see!!! 

Oregon Richie reminded me that it's only a week before he and Becky will be hitched. When I first met him over 10 years ago, I figured he was a dedicated bachelor and would remain that way. Well, well, well... how times change. He also had this to say about the pic of the Toyota I posted yesterday: I was a bit amused about the comment regarding the Toyota "FJ Cruiser" thing, as it's called here in the states.  Ugly?  Hmm.  It's mostly an American creation retro-rig and I don't regard it as much of a good looking rig either.  For practical use it's considered damn near a joke in SA and one off-road mag there indicated that they had to do a LOT to make it a serious contender for serious use.  Many such rigs are more designed for anything BUT the hard-core off-road market, whether by necessity or the local terrain.  If you look at the serious contenders, you will note a few key things, which are higher ground clearance, a bit more narrow, and a LOT of glass window-seeing-things and the road-in-front-of-you ( or no road at all ) perspective.  I have been in a few of those FJ things.  Terrible !!  It's like driving a cave.  Most of them here are either silver, or a bright blue, and a lot are that bright yellow color.  Anyway... I don't fancy them at ALL.  If I was more shy I would not refer to them as a freaking ridiculous joke, but then... I am not that shy.

I've been putting off the Tinonee shoot for too long, so today's the day. I'll also whizz out to Croki and maybe one or two other places.

BACK! As it turned out, it's lucky I went today, otherwise I might not have met this bloke playing peek-a-boo in a bottle brush tree:

I got a bit of footage of the koala but the bigger Fuji doesn't allow you to use zoom during video recording. Good thing I took a few stills as well. The bigger Fuji also doesn't have a stabilizer. It's not too bad with the monopod but not as good as the smaller Fuji. On the other hand, the smaller Fuji has a few probs with flare and focus in video mode. After shooting around Tinonee and chatting to a few folks, I was too buggered to drive on to Croki, so I came home. I'll shoot Croki and a few other towns/villages later and assemble them all into a montage. Hopefully, the vid will be finished before the end of September.

While I photographed one of the old churches in Tinonee, I spoke to a woman who told me it was Presbyterian. Then she told me the story of her life and 'seeing the light'. She was a very pleasant lady. At one point she was talking about getting older (she's a year younger than me) and eventually falling off the perch and I said, "It's alright for you, though!" And she asked why. I said, "because you'll be getting harp lessons and I'll get a shovel." They'd left the front door of the church open so I nicked inside and took a few shots of the interior. Lovely old church that dates from 1879.

It was difficult to get a clear shot of the koala through all the branches and twigs of the bottle brush. Here's a crop of a larger pic:

While we're on the subject of pics, I saw this one of a Studebaker coupe with an extra bit of bling on the front and wondered if NC Art had one of those on his for a touch of extra zoom. Hehe. Some people! I'm also wondering if that bloke to the left of the pic is a Native American keeping a look out for buffalo.

Ohio Jace wrote to keep me up to speed with the Ohio gang. Santa came early this year for his great nephews with a new laptop, thanks to a most generous Uncle Jace. Meanwhile, he has this to say about the Presidential Race: Can't wait to get the election over with. We are being bombarded with political ads on telly and phone calls all day long (despite being on a do not call list). So many lies and half truths. I am going to vote early to beat the long lines at the consolidated polling stations. Used to be I could walk to the church down the road now I have to drive 8 miles to vote or 5 miles to the Board of Elections, which is in town so I can do my usual shopping too.

Now that election season is upon us and with Ohio playing a pivotal role in the outcome, a little bit of trivia/history: Eight Presidents were from Ohio seven were native sons. Four Presidents were assassinated two of those were from Ohio. Eight Presidents died in office four of those were from Ohio. Two of the Presidents on the U.S. paper (banknotes) currency were from Ohio. 12 Presidents were generals during their lifetime, five of those were from Ohio. The President who served the shortest term was from Ohio, he also gave the longest inaugural speech and that contributed to his death. He also served the shortest term, just 31 days. Of the the eight, seven were Republican and one Whig. The last one was elected in 1920. Several peeps have run for office since but none have won the nomination.

Bit of thunder and lightning happening at the mo and rain to go with it. We haven't had rain for ages so I guess it's needed. The forecast says we're due for more before the week's out.

And guess who turns 4 in January? My little bloke in Nicaragua, Anyel. World Vision sent me a birthday card to fill out, and I've got a few 3D stick-on thingies of fish and birds to go with it. He can stick them on things in his room, I guess. That's if he's got a room. Probably shares one with all his siblings. Judging by the content of the letters I get two or three times a year, the family is doing well and life is improving with community gardens and a school. So that's all great news.

From the Beeb: The leader of Lebanese Shia Muslim militant movement Hezbollah calls for fresh protests over a film made in the US deemed insulting to Islam. I'm beginning to think if there was nothing to insult, there wouldn't be a film. 

A Russian Soyuz space capsule successfully lands in Kazakhstan with its three-man crew after they spent 123 days at the International Space Station. Welcome home, chaps. I hope you took lots of piccies!

Weeeeeeell, here we are again, time for a wrap and the usual post-wrap routine. I think I'll spend time editing the Tinonee video over the next day or two and then add Croki and the other villages later as I shoot them. All the villages have one thing in common... they're all on the banks of the Manning River. Hmmm, I guess that means including places like Harrington and Old Bar. Meanwhile, gotta think about din dins. Lindsay wants a chicken omelet cos I've got a stack of leftover chicken from the roast on Saturday. ME AND MY BIG MOUTH. Gary

September 16, 2012. TX Greg got out his big stick and gave my butt a few welts this morning hehe. He's rearranged a few things on the main page cos he reckons I'm making navigation a bit too complicated for the average dummy. Okay. I'll buy it.

As to sleeping bags and tents wrapped up for years, NC Art comments: The bloke who lifted your sleeping bag and tent probably did you a favor. Those things don’t keep as well as tinned tomato soup. When my three buds and I set off for Alaska, we all bought sleeping bags and air mattresses from an Army Surplus Store. Must have been from the first world war, the 1812 dustup with England or some earlier dispute.
    My maiden experience with an air mattress was unsatisfactory; the thing went flat and the ground was cold and lumpy. Just before dawn, adding insult to injury, some small animal whose hidey-hole I’d covered wriggled out and gave me a horrid scare. Sleeping bags were little better. The wool lining was in tatters from dry rot, and the canvas shell wouldn’t stop a light shower of mouse piss.
    Otherwise, 21 nights of camping through half of North America, the Canadian Northwest, and Alaskan bush was a remarkable experience. Yeah.

Hehe. The things you do when young and foolish. "Camping" for me will be a matter of where I park the "house"... none of this tent business (except the pop-up for the porta pottie and shower). I insist on a mini version of how I live now, in a house... all the comforts (and maybe even a few extra). I don't expect a sleeping bag will be necessary in most places I visit. I'll sleep on top. But there are places with high daytime temps that plummet overnight. "Be prepared," as Lord Baden-Powell wisely said.

On the topic of thieves and assholes generally, it took me a long time to understand why certain people act in a certain way. "How could anyone possibly do that?" people ask when they discover their car's been stolen or their house has been broken into or whatever. It's quite simple, really. Human brains aren't all the same. Some are missing bits like a conscience or the ability to empathise. One might as well ask why aren't all people are 6' tall.

There was some trouble saving Greg's changes to the main and guestbook pages so we emailed back and forth a few times before he figured it was easier to upload the pages himself. Then I copied them back to my comp. He also created a separate window for the map which you can close after viewing it rather than using the backbutton to return to AO... or you can swap between the two windows. An interesting thing I just discovered about the Google map is if you zoom out to the full extent, you get a map of Oz with the Taree pin as it relates to the whole damn world! If I'm facing north, Oregon Richie is on my right whereas CT Steve is on my left. Anyway, those maps are cool. If you zoom right in you get Taree town center and all the street names.

Speaking of street and place names, SF Bill spotted this story about an American visitor to Oz: Here's an article on the front pages of the SF Chronicle of all places.

Yesterday, while I was watching ABC News24, the regular program was interrupted by a live report from the center of Sydney where Muslim protesters (against the Youtube vid that denigrates Mohammed) were clashing with regular and riot police. It was very nasty with 8 people arrested and a couple of cops landing in hospital. That kind of behavior is unAustralian and won't be tolerated. If radical types think they can bring their troubles over here, they've got another think coming.

Well, there's another $75 towards the Odyssey target. Just sold 3 Zippo lighters I bought years ago when I thought I'd start a collection. Silly moi. I noticed them the other day and decided to flog 'em on eBay. They cost $90 so I've lost a few bucks but what the hell. I also have a marine style ice chest that I could get about $100 for. It's 60 liters; too big to fit the camper or be stored. Posting would be a hassle so I'll sell it locally. The radio station here has a Buy, Swap and Sell program on weekends where peeps can advertise free. As the Odyssey gets closer, I'll use that show to get rid of a lot more things... timber filing cabinet, bookcases, fridges and other stuff that's too big to post.

Averil was telling me one day that she and Kev moved house quite often over the years. They always rented. Each time they moved, they sold all their furniture and everything else that wouldn't fit in their car, then bought more used stuff when they settled again. Either that or rented furnished places. Interesting idea. I've spent/wasted thousands of dollars on moving stuff from one place to another. What a pain in the ass! And not just the moving, but all that packing and unpacking! Once the Odyssey is over, I'll either rent a furnished place or buy a bunch of used furniture. I might even live in a caravan/mobile home. Where? I have absolutely no idea.

Did I say that's another $75 towards the Odyssey target? Oh, well... let's just say I swapped 3 Zippos for 1 sleeping bag with a bit of change left over. It's not a double, but close enough at 100cm wide (almost 3.5'), and it's a Coleman brand. Now all I need is a pair of bunny rabbit socks and a teddy bear.

Well, ladies and genitals, after all that buggerizing around with TX Greg earlier and bits of this and that, the day went thataway. In fact, the whole damn weekend did. But I feel I'm accomplishing things... a couple of new features for the web site, plus a few new bits and pieces for the camper - tool box, mat, sleeping bag, rose-scented tidy bags, mini vacuum, padlocks... Slowly but surely. Anyway, 'tis time I attended to the usual domestics and bid ye farewell 'til the morrow. Oh that new Toyota thing I photographed outside Mark's Barber Shop. UGLY!


September 15, 2012. TX Greg suggests I should stock up on surfboard wax. Now there's a great idea! Stock the camper with surf wax, park at the beach and set up a sales display outside the camper door! You can sit back in your chair and make sales and gawks, hehe.

WOW, I just about fell out of my chair! You got the script loaded for the simple guest book. I see it did the same thing as when I tried using for Cody's guest book. Notice how the fill in boxes don't line up and then the entries format just looks too plain. Yea it will do for what you want, but now explain to me why you wouldn't put the journal index links on the main page, but it's ok to clutter up the main page with the guest book fill in boxes?

Sheesh! Can you imagine being married to Greg? I dunno why I chose not to put the Journal index on the main page... too long ago. Besides, I don't think the guestbook looks out of place. Actually, the boxes line up okay on a bigger screen. Admittedly, I'd rather it took up less room but it's not too bad, and there's no other suitable place to put it. Those empty spaces in the adjacent columns are screaming out to be filled with something but I haven't figured out what yet. It'll come to me.

How-bloody-ever, I did manage to figure out how to link the map on the main page to "where I am now". At first I went to Google maps, typed in Taree and pasted the URL but that didn't work. So then I went to basic search and typed in Taree. Whammo! The correct URL! So now all I need do each time I change location is follow that procedure, update the link to the map, and Bob's yer uncle. I've also linked the "where am I now?" text on the Update page.

I figured the problem with animating the map on the main page with a pin is, if I only travel 50 kms every other day or so, the pin will hardly move. Linking it to a Google map is more informative. Yeah? 68 and still sharp as a tack hehe. Eat your hearts out, whippersnappers.

Francois also wrote to say that his pics from the 900 nautical mile trip to the Belep Islands are now on his web site. I didn't translate from french: I'm very lazzy... btw the name of the big fish in french is "gosses lèvres" = big lips so you were very near it in your comment on its mouth!

I haven't checked Francois' site yet because my internet connection is having probs this morning with a couple of sites... most others work, though. The vagaries of this cyber world are impossible to fathom sometimes.

I've been meaning to check my sleeping bag and dome tent for ages to see if they're still in good shape after been packed away for years. In fact, I haven't used the sleeping bag since my days in Canberra almost 20 years ago. They were stored in the back of the Ute. Hello? Gone! Stolen, I imagine... probably while the car was parked at the shopping mall. I rarely lock the rear hatch. The mongrels didn't touch other stuff, like the beach shade, foot pump, tarp, tool kit, etc. The sleeping bag and tent was all he/they wanted. Oh well... Good thing I bought all those padlocks for the storage bins under the camper. I don't want that happening again.

Anyway, the sleeping bag was only a cheapie one-person thing; too restrictive actually. I'll get a double so I can spread myself around a bit. A sleeping bag also saves messing around with bedding. All I need is a couple of pillows. And a teddy bear. *ahem* Do I need a dome tent? Prolly not. It was an impulse buy back when I had Tough Titties.

I did buy a couple of things today though... apart from the marinated and stuffed chicken I'll roast tonight. I bought a mat for the wiping of feet to replace the old tattered carpet mat in the camper, and two pair of cow-hide garden gloves. Why two? Because they were on spesh, 2 pair for $3. How cheap was that? They'll be handy when I'm buggerizing around in the bush looking for firewood or whatever. You never know what's lurking under those fallen twigs and branches. I also checked out prices of sleeping bags. Whoa! The doubles ain't cheap so they can wait. It's not like I need one right now.

I also bought petrol. The tank was almost empty. $72! Sheesh! But it'll last for a few months. No more trips to Newcastle or Port Macquarie for a long time yet. And the November Sydney trip is by train.

From the Beeb: The Taliban say they carried out a deadly attack on a Nato base in Afghanistan in response to a video that has caused outrage in the Muslim world. I hear that the film on Youtube is an independent amateur production that's sooooo poorly produced, it's a joke. So it seems like the Taliban and other Islamic fanatics are using it as an excuse to carry out their dastardly deeds, which they would have carried out in any event. Last I heard, the director/producer of the film - who is a nobody anyway - had gone into hiding.

Also from the Beeb: Pope Benedict XVI has called on Christians, Muslims and Jews to "root out" religious fundamentalism, on the first day of his trip to Lebanon. Yeah, right. We've all read our history, Benny, and we know what it was like in Europe when many countries were ruled by Christian theocracies. I suspect they still would be if it were not for democracy and secular authority. However, it's encouraging that Benny is making a call to the world's leading religions to get their act together and root out fundamentalism. "Religious fundamentalism seeks to take power for political ends, at times using violence, over the individual conscience and over religion," the Pope said. And it was some other bloke who said, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

So that's it for Satdee. Almost. I just remembered what happened yesterday at Mark's Barber Shop. I was just about to pay him when he asked if I still carried my camera with me. "Sure," I answered as I pulled it out of my pocket. Then one of the other customers told Mark that I'd already taken a pic of the new Toyota 4WD wagon outside while we were waiting. Anyway, I noticed a bunch of crap in Mark's sink and said, "Oh, that deserves a pic... how artistic!" He went to clean the stuff out and I stopped him. "Leave it all there!" I protested. "This could be a prize-winning photo!"

I should have asked him what a wine cork was doing in the sink. Hello? The plot thickens. Anyway, time for me to do the kitchen routine and the telly thing and ride off into the sunset. Gary

September 14, 2012. When SF Bill saw the pic of the fat lady at the camper doorway, he wrote: I think that might scare me into abandoning the trip but I would at least move very far away.

That's one of the advantages of having a house on wheels... if the neighbors are a bit of a worry, you can flee. On the other hand, it might be ME who's borrowing cups of sugar hehe. Or I could suddenly take an interest in surfboard wax.

When I saw this pic on a newsgroup this morning I thought how cool it was that all kinds of people are taking an interest in photography... including very short people.

There was a science program on telly last night that investigated claims made by manufacturers of cosmetic creams and lotions that their products reduce or eliminate aging and wrinkles. Some claim to be using stem cell technology. One said its stem cells are obtained from a particular kind of apple that has a longer shelf life than regular apples. But when a scientist investigated the fine print he said the apple was, in fact, a regular apple. Furthermore, he said stem cells can't survive in a jar of cream - that they need a very sophisticated controlled environment to remain alive. The bottom line, he said, was that claims made by these manufacturers were bogus - that they were blatant false advertising - that the products were nothing more than moisturizers that had little or no lasting effects on aging and wrinkles.

So who's policing these outrageous claims? Who's exposing them for fraud? No one but this program it seems. Meanwhile, millions of people are parting with their hard earned and the manufacturers are getting rich by lying to the vulnerable.

Somebody on the program said people are judged by their looks. If that's the case, then there are lot of shallow people out there who place way too much emphasis on cosmetic appearance. To me, wrinkles are cool, which is why I haven't ironed a shirt in years. I figure if you're still depending on youthful looks in your latter years, then you've lost the plot. I like to think of myself as no longer a pretty flower but, rather, an interesting dried arrangement. Hehe.

From the Beeb: Protests against an anti-Islam film made in the US spread, as angry crowds gather outside US embassies in the Middle East and North Africa. In my view, anyone who's dumb enough to be obsessive about religious dogma is also dumb enough to be dangerous. One Middle Eastern person at the scene of the embassy chaos in Lybia, captured on camera, shouted defiantly, "Don't upset our people! They will kill!" Go figure.

Actually, all this madness reminds me of a girl named Yvonne in 4th class who ridiculed me for still believing in Santa Claus. I was devestated and ran home to my mother to ask her if it was true. So who was to blame? Yvonne for being brutally honest and hurting my feelings? Me for being immature and susceptible to fantasy? Or my parents for lying to me in the first place?

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He's as real as God in Heaven and everlasting life, and this jar of wrinkle cream."

The Odyssey pledges got another boost today with payment for the Sony camera, which takes the total so far to 140 ($700). The guy is from Bondi but he'll be traveling through Taree next Thursday/Friday when he'll collect the camera.

Page views skyrocketed yesterday which means peeps are having fun with the new search facility on AO. And why not? Not only that BUT I just added a simple guestbook to the bottom of the main page. If you're tempted to say something wonderfully warm and fuzzy about me and/or the site, be my guest. And don't be rude.

Jeez, 1pm already, which means Mark the Barber will be at lunch and won't get back until 2:30. That's how it is in a country town, folks. He also has Wednesday afternoons off to go surfing. Meanwhile I'm looking more like an albino Koala every day. I really shouldn't say things like that cos it only gives TX Greg ideas.

By the way, I've added a few new images to my Red Bubble favorites page that are well worth a bo peep.

Back from a spot of shopping... a punnet of strawbs for $1.60 and few other things, including a tool box from Auto Cheap. It's a good sturdy metal box with a carry handle and latch, and 3 or 4" longer than the plastic or fabric ones (15"). Pretty cool for $13. I checked to see if my hammer fitted when I got it home and yes, it does. There's a draw full of loose tools accumulated over the years so now they have a place of their own to be stored in one of the bins under the camper. I also got a bit girly and bought a roll of rose-scented tidy bags for the camper hehe. Oh, and I was first in line when Mark the Barber returned from lunch.

I asked Mark why his business never suffered as a consequence of his habit of taking time off to lunch, surf, ski or whatever and he said, "I have a bad attitude to work. I don't like work. I work because we all have to work." One of the other two customers remarked earlier as we waited outside the shop, "It's impossible to offend Mark." He was a few minutes into cutting my hair when I said, "You never asked me how I wanted it." And he said, "No, I didn't."

So there ya go... a rather quiet one. When the highlight of your day is a tool box and/or a haircut, it's not something likely to make the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald. But Waffle is a different matter. The toolbox is another small step toward the Odyssey. Each time something finds its home in the camper, it's a sure sign that preparations are being made for something pretty special. Yeah? That's the way I look at it. Meanwhile, it's time to think about what I'll have for dinner. I figure the fish fillet in lemon and parsley sauce might be the go. Catch you on the morrow. Gary

September 13, 2012. Well, there's another $16 towards the Odyssey. I won it in Lotto last night hehe. Sheesh. That's barely enough to buy a cheap bottle of champers. We used to call our sparkling whites Champagne until the French got a bit miffed and stopped us using the name. We can use the names of grape varieties but not the names of places in France. How does the name Boggabilla Bubbly sound? Pretty flash, yes? Not as flash as Perignon, though. Aussie wines have a great reputation in many parts of the world. We've had a glut for the past decade or so and the stuff I buy, although quite quaffable, is cheap as chips... about $2.50 a liter (even cheaper when it's on spesh).

The number of pages accessed on AO increased dramatically yesterday so someone must've been trying out the Google search facility. TX Greg hasn't had a chance to check the reason it appears on Firefox but not on Internet Explorer yet but he says it's more of Bill Gates' bullshit.

Pay Day! Not that it improves the bank balance much. By the time the outgoings are taken care of, I get the crumbs. At least I'm surviving.

Today is the last day of the Sony camera auction on eBay. I started it last Thursday at one dollar. It's up to over $90 now with about 3 hours to go. It was originally an $1800 camera back in 2002/3. I bought it in 2007/8 for $400. But it's a bit of a dinosaur now in terms of technology so I wasn't expecting anything more than about $100 (even though I've included all the accessories with it). Cest la vie. Meanwhile, I'm pretty happy with what the 3 Fujis are capable of. And I like the fact that they use rechargable AAs.

Here's a shot I took just now using the smaller Fuji in super macro mode of the chicken or egg conundrum.

Not bad, huh? It took 8 shots to get that particular one. BTW, it's a free range egg. And the feather is one that escaped from my quilt. Natural lighting.

My first TV ad was for a carpet retailer in town, back in 1971 when I worked for an advertising agency. Our offices were on the first floor of a building in Mann St Gosford. The lower floor was occupied by a fast food/sandwich shop. In the morning, a colleague and I drove out to a chicken farm not far from town and got a loan of a hen, which we brought back to the office. Then we borrowed an egg from the shop proprietor and also borrowed his spare room at the rear of the shop. We laid out a roll of carpet, placed the egg on it, sat the hen on the egg, then filmed the hen rising from the egg (as if having just laid it) and wandering out of shot. It took a few takes cos the damn chook kept getting up too fast. But at least it didn't crap on the carpet hehe. The theme of the ad was something like "we take great care in what we lay". Anyway, it turned out to be a pretty good ad... and I was quite chuffed about it being my first.

The editor, who worked at a TV station in Newcastle, told me it was the first time he'd seen a script divided into 3 columns... video, voice over, and a third column with each scene timed to the second. I'd never seen a TV script before so I kinda invented that one. Seemed logical to me.

TX Greg got around to figuring out what went wrong with the Google search engine and began his email with OH GARRRRRRY !!! , which is Texan for 'you bloody dickhead'. In other words, I placed Google's script in the wrong place which is why Internet Explorer couldn't find it. But all is well now (with all browsers), and the search box is now located at the bottom of the main AO page as well as the update, journal, and waffle index pages. Finding anything on the site is a piece of cake... and fast.

At least it was simple. Actually kind of fun to play with. I just searched "fossil" and got 24 hits and guess what the google ad was, , hahaha. 

Well, that's made a really big diff to my concerns about "how the hell is anyone gonna find stuff on this site?" Even now it's a gig's worth of text and pics but I anticipate it being a lot bigger once I'm on the road. One idea was to list all towns in alphbetical order and then link them as I visit them, but that would be an horrendous task!

Another idea was to animate the map on the main page to show where I am at any given stage with a pin or something. But I don't have the software to put pins and text on graphics. Anyone know of a cheap graphics/photo editing program? The problem with Google maps is they don't show a particular place like Taree in relation to the whole of Oz. However, if you zoom out you can see how Taree relates to major centers like Sydney and Brisbane.

The Sony camera sold for $102 plus $20 postage. Oh well... easy come, easy go. It was just sitting around here gathering dust and not being used. Anyway, that's another contribution to the Odyssey.

Roite, I just downloaded PhotoScape after trying desperately to avoid all kinds of freebies from downloading sites. Talk about pushy buggers! PhotoScape is a graphic/photo editing program that has good reviews, is simple to use (it'd wanna be for dummy here), and is free. So here comes another learning curve! It ain't no PhotoShop, of course, but nonetheless has lots of cool features. I'm looking at the main page now. Hello? Did I mention learning curve? Sheesh! Why do I keep DOING this to myself? Oh well... I really need to know something about the basics of photo/graphics manipulation so I better do the Nike thing and JUST DO IT. It all looks a bit overwhelming at the mo but there's an online help site that has 'how to' vids of the various features, so I suppose I'll eventually get the gist of it. 

Terry Everson, my RB mate whom I mentioned yesterday, just saw my egg photo and commented: sicks munce igo u coodunt evin spel artist now you R 1.

Watched QI last night with Stephen Fry. He's a funny bloke. He was talking about mobile phones (cell phones in the US) and how the Germans call them mein Handy hehe. He camped it up something wonderful... even one of the panelists (who's a very funny lady) asked him to do it again. Anyway, I found the clip on Youtube.

It's been a hottie today in Taree... 30C and humid. The forecast was for thunderstorms later in the day (which is where we're at now). I don't wanna tempt fate but all we've had so far is a bit of a breeze and a few drops. Actually, that's one of the disadvantages of the camper... I can't hide under the bed.

Stephen Fry also mentioned a couple of interesting things about lightning: If you're caught outdoors during an electrical storm, the best thing to do is seek refuge in your car. If there's no car, kneel down, put your head between your knees, hands over your head, and bum in the air. (One of the panelists - the woman - had the temerity to suggest he does that all the time anyhow hehe). Fry also said never stand under a tree when lightning is flashing all around you. The problem is not so much the lightning itself, but if it strikes the tree, the sap boils instantaneously and causes the tree to explode.

So wot's for dinner? Can't be bothered cooking much or buggerizing around soooooo... I think I'll have pancakes. Hehe. WHY NOT? Before I vanish, let's take a quick look at the Beeb. Oh, yes, the Lybian bombing that killed the US ambassador. Now who in the world would be crazy enough to make a movie satirizing Islam and call a donkey Mohammed? I can't believe it. And now there's some loony US Bible Belt nitwit threatening to promote the film. Talk about a red rag to a bull. Quite a few million bulls, actually. Meanwhile, Obama is not amused.

And in Europe, pro-Europe parties won the Dutch vote and the far-righters got their political ass kicked. Good. The last thing the world needs is more loonies. And that's it, Ls and Gs, time for telly and pancakes. Hehe. Gary

September 12, 2012. I'd love to have seen the expressions on everyone's faces when they checked out yesterday's Waffle and saw the view through the camper doorway. What a classic pic.

TX Greg has a point though. I'll be exposed to new and different situations on a daily basis and ANYTHING could happen. It ain't gonna be dull out there, and the ol' keyboard's gonna be kept busy. As I mentioned to Oregon Richie this morning, it's been a pretty rough ride since I went bust back in the early 90s so it's high time my fortunes changed.

Ohio Jace also sent a pic of something I might see through the camper doorway hehe, but I better not post it cos there's a wobbly bit. He also wrote: From Waffle: I know how Richie feels. The closer my wedding got the more nervous I got and I could not believe June actually said yes (still can't). It had to be a dream a very pleasant dream that I would wake from. Wasn't though, we went from friends, to best friends, marriage, back to friends, and finally very good friends again with two boys somewhere in there. All in a span of nearly 50 years. I know about microwave dinners too. I tell everyone if it can't be cooked in a microwave I don't want it. I do still cook though. Mostly, when company comes calling. Micro's are for reheating not cooking. It does make nice hot chocolate for the kiddies on a cold winter morning and my morning cuppa.

I made the scrambled eggs with cheese in the micro last night. Micros are handy, and the ones that double as a conventional oven can be used for all kinds of cooking. But I won't be using one on the Odyssey... not unless they make gas micros. I reckon the jaffle iron and pan will get the most use... and maybe the campfire and/or camp BBQ. The local hamburger joint might get a visit or two as well... not to mention the pie shop.

Jace also says the Paralympics weren't covered by his local media... no medal count and rarely a highlight in the newspaper. Running sixth wouldn't have stimulated much interest either... but lack of media attention is not a good thing for the American athletes. There was a report on telly that fructose (sugar), which is in almost everything, especially, Pepsi and Coke, prevents the body from taking up calcium, so the body makes up for it by borrowing calcium from the skeleton, making the bones brittle. That's interesting because Sue has advanced osteoporosis and she's been a candy eater all her life. Averil has moderate osteoporosis and loves her cakes and pastries.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Gang is fine, and Jace's great nephew - the one who had a motocross accident and broke his leg - is determined to race again. Oh well... we all know what they say about bois.

The throbbing in my foot from the ant bite yesterday finally subsided last night, about 10 hours after the nippers did their thing. NC Art reckons there's a sure fire way to fix insect bites: ...make a small poultice of chewing tobacco, well chewed, and apply to wound. Sounds nutty, but it’s powerful. Don’t chew tobacco? keep a bit on hand for the Odyssey; you never know what you’ll meet up with.

True. If I got bitten by that woman in Greg's pic, for example, a bit of chewing tobacco could very well be the perfect antidote. Yeah... right. I'll keep it in mind, Art.

Oregon Richie has this to say about the Dem Convention: Well... yeah, the political sabre rattling is bound to gear up again soon, and recent press here indicates that Obama got a larger "convention bounce" than Romney did.  Call it a "commanding lead" ?  But it ain't over until... you know.  Most die-hards know exactly who they are going to vote for... but the so-called independent types are a different story.  I don't they particularly like either party, or are hard-core cynical about them, and if they choose to vote at all then perhaps they cast their nod to the one thinks will do the LEAST harm, rather than the most good.  Beyond that... it's to convince folks to just get out and vote... whether at a polling station, or by mail, as Oregon does.  Nobody who gives a damn can afford one bit of apathy about it; that's for sure.  It IS important.

I've just spent a while installing the Google search engine on Aussie Odyssey... top of the main home page, journal-main page, updates page, thejournal0000 index page and waffle index page. It works pretty well. Type in anything you remember from previous years and up she comes. It'll certainly be handy in a few years after I've covered some territory. Thanks for the tip, Greg.

Hmmm. I just checked those AO pages using Internet Explorer and the Google search engine is missing. It only appears when I'm using Firefox. Must be some kinda compatability issue between those two. I've just spent ages trying to sort it out but can't. No point in having a search engine that doesn't work with all browsers so if TX Greg doesn't know the answer then I'll remove it and go for something else.

Using my own search engine would mean having to update it each time I post something new but I suppose that's not much of a hassle. Greg says he can whip up a simple CGI script on the weekend when my eyeballs are fully open.

Meanwhile I've buggerized around with something that wasted several hours AND I HATE THAT! Grrrrr!

Well, I cleaned up the old deep fryer today so I can make CHIPPIES tonight. Luv dem chippies! Luv potato scallops too. Dunno if you have them over there... thin slices of potato dipped in batter. I usually add granulated garlic and ground pepper to the batter mix for a bit of zing. On the Odyssey, I'll restrict deep frying to outdoors... bit too dangerous in the camper. Actually, it wouldn't be a bad idea to invest in one of those single burner propane stoves that use gas cartridges. Quicker and easier than getting a campfire going... and useful as a spare if I run outta gas in the main bottle. The one pictured is only 20 bucks.

A fellow Red Bubbler, Terry Everson, just commented on a couple of my pics. He lives in Western Sydney and spends each week (except for his day off) caring for his mom who turned 100 yesterday. With a name like Everson I'm not surprised. Anyway, it makes dear Arthur seem like a sprout. When Terry was a youngster, he and his bro hopped into a little Hillman Imp (Rootes Group's answer to the Morris Mini) with a huge pile of camping gear tied to the roof racks, and drove around Oz. I can't believe that little car handled the distance as well as the rough roads. But it covered over 60,000 miles without a hitch. Terry's been around Oz many times since, and also traveled much of the world.

Getting close to telly time and chippies time now, so it's a wrap, dear Breth. Almost... just checked the Beeb and it seems the Euro crisis is deepening: Germany's top court is about to deliver its verdict on whether the ongoing attempts to contain the eurozone crisis breach the country's constitution. And in the Netherlands: A close race is expected as voters in the Netherlands go to the polls after a campaign dominated by concerns about the eurozone crisis

Also on the Beeb, you can buy Coca Cola in any country around the world, right? Wrong. There are still two countries where you can't get a Coke. Gary

September 11, 2012. TX Greg wrote: Remember what you said the other day about camping in Doodle Waddle "and that fat lady who keeps borrowing cups of sugar.." HAHAHAHA.....

Oh dear.... my worst nightmare!  Funny, yes... unless you happen to be trapped in the camper with nowhere to run! I'll have nightmares about that for sure. However, the pic does demonstrate how dramatically the view from the rear door is capable of changing with each day. The camper is only the means to an end and not the end in itself... or something like that. Once a regular house sits on its foundations, that's it... end of story. Not so with a house on wheels.

And that's the thing I'm endeavoring to wrap my head around when I try to imagine what it will be like. We're not talking a week or two here. We're talking years on the road. We're talking the whole of Oz, which is not only the world's largest island but also a continent! It's about 3000 kms from one side to the other, and from top to bottom! How's that for scary? When Francois recently finished his 900 nautical mile trip around the Belep Islands, he returned home. What do I return to? Know what I mean? It's just li'l ole me wandering around this vast land with no roots... a tumbleweed at the mercy of the winds. Hehe. Sheesh. Try wrapping the old brain around that lot.

The only "anchor" I have (and have had for the past decade or so) is you blokes. My cyber friends are my family. My permanent home is this web site and the Waffle page. It's where I go every day for a chat. Without it, I'd be truly isolated on the Odyssey, which would be even scarier. So even when I'm out in the middle of Woop Woop, I can stay in touch with the peeps I know and with whom I have a sense of belonging. Otherwise, I don't think I'd have the courage to embark on such a whacky project.

On the other hand (now where have I heard that before?), I'm curious to know what it's like to be surrounded by nothing except a landscape that stretches for umpteen miles in all directions, and where I'm not likely to see another soul for days on end; where there's just me and the universe and silence... and maybe one of these guys.

Later today, TX Greg wrote: "Oooooh Gary darling, I'll trade you some sugars for a cup of sugar!"

I've been laughing my ass off all day at that photo :) Now if you dream tonight about a fat lady trying to crawl into your camper bed, don't blame me, you gave me the idea, hehe. The minute I saw that pic this morning I just had to do it. It's endless all the photos that could go in there :)

Endless? Knowing you, Greg, that's what worries me.

Buttons and Bows prompted NC Art to comment: Dinah Shore was a good one, and before her we had Kate Smith, the “Songbird of the South.” Kate had a full Southern drawl and was, ah, generously endowed and some would say overly plump. At some society function or other, she crossed swords with Tallulah Bankhead, chain smoking, gravel voiced, leather skinned actress who took no crap from anyone. Miss Bankhead took the measure of Miss Smith and growled, “What a gross tub of shit you are.” An all-out nail & claw hair-pulling performance was averted when friends hastened them to opposite sides of the room. Our current crop of outrageous celebrities are a rather pale lot.

Art also wrote to tell me that: A poll of registered Ohio voters on who deserves more credit for the removal of Osama bin Laden, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, yielded this opinion:

Obama 38%
Mitt Romney 15%
Undecided 47%

The figures are from memory, but they are close.

In awe,

I guess that means 62% of peeps wouldn't have a bloody clue what's going on, and I'm not sure I find that surprising. Dangerous, perhaps, but not surprising. Meanwhile, according to Art, Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert have written an impressive new book. It's called .... 'Ministers Do More Than Lay People.' 

Earlier, I asked TX Greg about putting a search engine on Aussie Odyssey to make it easier for peeps to find specific things on the site. There are ways to create something exclusive to AO or there's a freebie by Google, which uses all their resources. Okay, so it's free because there are ads but if peeps find what they want fast and without hassle, what's the prob? I'll check out the Google freebie tomorrow. They also have an option that's ad free, but that's $100 a year. I'll try the freebie first.

And here we are on the anniversary of 9/11. I get a little confused about that cos we place the day before the month. No need for a pic cos we've all seen them a zillion times before, and remember exactly where we were and what we were doing at the time. Averil and I spoke about it briefly when I popped in for a chat earlier today... what a horror it was... one of those rare events that stuns the world and beggars disbelief. Cody wrote "has the world gone mad?" He was with Steph at her house, and he explained to me that they didn't make love because "how could you have sex after seeing something like that?"

9/11 was one of those tragic reminders that it's impossible to have a middle without extremes on either side.

Meanwhile, SF Bill, who bobs up now and then, wrote: I really like the pics of that red MG, but I've got to say it looks much better than it drives.  I've had a couple of TR3's and 4's in my life, and while they were fun cars, they required constant hands on care.  But the most fun car I've had over all was a '68 TR Spitfire; dinky little thing with only 90 hp and a top speed of only 110 mph; but the things I did in that thing; I'm lucky I'm still alive. 

The Brits idea of a sports car is to have something to putter with on the weekends; Crazy Americans like me (sports car types) want the fastest, best handling car and the twistiest roads to traverse (yeah, my grammar is atrocious), not to do constant maintenance on a car on weekends. 

I'm sort of ashamed to say that while I like Chevy Corvettes, I don't like their price and expensive maintenance costs.  So, taking into account performance and costs, I traded in my 2008 Nissan 350Z for a 2012 370Z.  It's about $20000 less than a comparable Corvette and I'm totally happy with the speed and handling; it's also more reliable than the Vette; I've been lucky to have escaped getting ticketed in it so far, but I think I've gotten the total crazies out of my system for now and will be driving more sanely now.

SF Bill is one of those quiet blokes who doesn't like to be noticed... especially by cops.

Did I say I was bitten by an ant? I was bitten by an ant. I was out in the backyard photographing spring flowers when a black ant - moderately large - decided I was trespassing and bit me on the foot. Seven hours later, my foot is still throbbing, and there's a red welt. I tried the home remedy trick and put damp salt on the wound plus a band aid but it hasn't helped much. What a bummer!

Anyway, time to flee again for another day. Scrambled eggs tonight with cheese... easy and edible. Gary

September 10, 2012. Roy and Buck yesterday brought back memories for NC Art, and so did the MG: The link to music and that ol’ 5 string gitfiddle took me back aways. Arthur Smith, the “creator” was a fixture on WBT Radio in Charlotte, NC, just across the Catawba River from my home town. I listened to Arthur Smith and the Clodhoppers because my father kept a radio tuned in. So I heard Dueling Banjos early in its music life. And, much later, I recall a big cussfight over its use in the film Deliverance. Smith didn’t get his copyright sustained so no residual rights to royalties sweetened his bank accounts. He died royally pissed over the whole sorry mess. 
    The snazzy MG is a real beauty. The first one I saw in the flesh was sitting in our local police parking lot one morning. My brother, chief of police, told me to take a look before the federal guys got there to impound it. The driver was in a cell, also waiting for the feds. Seems he came rolling through our village at 3 a.m. and was stopped by an alert cop...just out of curiosity. The chap in the vehicle was a bit high on cocaine, plus he had a big stash hidden in the car. And a supply of German pistols, a couple of high powered rifles, and well filled boxes of ammunition.
    Never heard what happened to driver or car, but it was an electric blue beauty. I was 30 years old then, but the boy in me sure wanted to take that set of wheels for a spin. Didn’t happen.

Speaking of music and radios, I can remember as a kid hearing Dinah Shore singing Buttons and Bows and wondering how the hell she managed to fit inside that small box. Radio was a wonderful thing; the center of attention as we sat in the living room or at the dinner table. "The theater of the mind", it was called. When I was on air at a radio station in Gosford, I used to introduce the recorded acapella station IDs as the girls. "Okay, girls, are you ready to sing our song? All together now..." And then I'd hit the cartridge play button. Hehe. Lots of peeps thought I had a mini choir live in the studio. I also realized that lamo jokes could work quite well if there was a reaction to them, so I got all the office girls into the studio (off air) and asked them to record various negative reactions such as boos or moans and whatever. I had a bunch of them on cart for variety. When ever I cracked a corny one-liner, the girls were always ready to express their disapproval. It worked a treat.

Here's a Youtube clip I discovered... an ABC News clip of a vet talking to Mitt Romney about marriage equality. Note the body language... the vet leans back as if intimidated by Romney while Romney looks the man directly in the eye as he answers his questions. After Romney leaves, the man assumes a much more aggressive stance. Click here for the video.

To my way of thinking, using the argument that marriage has always been between a man and a woman is like saying that black people have always been considered inferior which makes it okay to treat them as slaves and force them to the back of the bus. Or that a woman's place is in the kitchen and/or at home raising the kids, and that a woman has no right to vote. The pages of history are littered with examples of resistance to change, and this is just another page.

I took the little Fuji into the camper today and snapped a pic of the view through the doorway to remind me on the Odyssey of what it was like to be in the backyard and wonder about the things I might see through that same doorway in time to come. As you've no doubt noted, the garage floor needs sweeping and there's a mess of junk stacked at the rear. Bleh. Dozen madder.

So what kinda views can I expect to see over the next whatever months and years? Name something. Anything. And don't say New York City or Antarctica. But whatever there is to see in Oz I'll see. It doesn't seem real, does it. It seems like some weird fantasy dreamed up by a loony suffering hallucinations. Hehe. Hmmmm. I must admit, when it does happen, I'll need to pinch myself to believe it. One thing's for sure, the ol' shutter button will get quite a workout.

What about something like this? Or this? Or even this? - Bondi Beach smack bang in the middle of Sydney

I was just thinking about being parked at a beach or somewhere in a crowded place and coming back to the camper to find that someone had pinched my ladder. It's easy enough to alight from the camper, detach the ladder and slide it along the floor inside but there might be times I either forget or can't be bothered. The one I have at the mo is actually from a swimming pool... lightweight plastic but quite strong. But it's rigid and can't be folded away. Soooo, how about a rope ladder? Much easier to fold away and store. Yeah... worth the $30+ I reckon.

Anyway, being on permanent holiday and able to arrive at popular places like Bondi or Manly early in the morning, well before the crowds, means I can park in a good spot close to the beach and then wander around the place at my leisure, using the camper as my base for the day. Camping is not allowed but you can park all day and probably well into the evening before you have to move on. For example, if I spend a couple of hours photographing various sights, I can return to base, check out the pics, fart around on line for a while, grab a quick snooze, and toddle off again for a while.

There I go, dreaming again. I think I know how Oregon Richie feels. He's due to marry his sweetheart in two weeks from now. He knows it's gonna happen but it still seems surreal after so many years as a bachelor arriving home to his microwave.

Five-ish again but still daylight. The days are getting longer and the temps are on the rise. Meanwhile, placings on the final day of the Paralympics remained as they have been for the past few days. Just one gold medal kept the US from pipping Oz for 5th place hehe. You can see the final tallies here

So what does a Mississippi clam have to do with South Sea pearls from Broome in Western Oz (a place I can't wait to visit)? I wrote about Aussie pearls recently and discovered this story on the Beeb. It's really interesting.

On that note, ladies and genitals, I'll call it a wrap, post this page and relax in front of the telly. Gary

September 9, 2012. TX Greg wrote: That's one hell of a shot of the camelia. I could see that being used as a background pic with a poem to the side of it :)

I'm pretty sure the camelia is originally from China. It's related to the tea tree, so that figures. No shortage of tea in China. Tea is as cheap as chips now, but there was a time in Britain when tea was highly prized by the aristocracy and very expensive... the exclusive preserve of the rich. It was transported from the Orient by fast clipper ships so that it arrived relatively fresh. Aussies of previous generations still refer to the evening meal as tea. Between-meal snacks are referred to as morning tea (10am) and afternoon tea (3pm). Even though coffee is mostly drunk these days, morning and afternoon breaks are still referred to as tea breaks.

And speaking of the Brits, according to many purists, the early MGs are the only true sports cars... cloth cap, driving gloves and tweed jacket old boy...

Incidentally, it'll be the 100th anniversary of Morris Garages next year. The Morris Club of Australia will gather in Canberra for the 2013 celebrations. My first car was a used 1951 Morris.

NC Art just forwarded some stuff about the sexes: The difference between men and women according to George Carlin:

Men socialize by insulting each other but they don't really mean it. Women socialize by complimenting each other but they don't really mean it either.

Funny stuff, yes? Vive la difference! <--- French for owyagoinmatenoworries.

*knock knock* Hang on... there's someone at the front door. Won't be a tick.

Gary: Hello?
Roy: Hi, Gary. I'm Roy and this is my friend Buck.
Gary: Roy Clark and Buck Owens?
Buck: That's us!
Gary: Well, come on in! What are you guys doing here in Taree?
Roy: Just passin' through. We recognized your house from the video you posted.
Buck: Yeah, thought we'd call in and say hi to your Aussie Odyssey folks.
Gary: Really? Well, that's very kind of you. Take a seat. Care for a beer?
Roy: Thanks.
Gary: That'll be five bucks each.
Buck: What?
Gary: Just kiddin'. I see you brought your instruments.
Buck: Never go anywhere without 'em, Gary. What would you like to hear?
Gary: Oh, well... er... I dunno.
Roy: Recognize this one?
Gary: I saw the movie back back in the early '70s. Scared the daylights outta me.
Buck: Okay, let 'er rip, Roy...

Well, the guys left a few minutes ago. Wasn't that a surprise? Actually, it was a little experiment just to see if the link would work. Ya never know what's gonna happen around here. What I don't know yet is whether clicking the link takes you to another page or allows you to stay on this one while the music plays. I do now, though... I just tested it on line. Dangit.  (Update, TX Greg fixed it. Now there's a mini player above.)

I also found a site where you can download free background music for non-commercial vids and presentations. The music is not brilliant but it's pretty good. The muso is an enthusiast who just likes writing tunes and playing. All he wants is a credit on the vid. So there ya go, music for free. And on the subject of vids, mine on Youtube are slowly but surely getting more views... nothing viral but encouraging. Which reminds me, one of these days I'm gonna have to put a search thingy on Aussie Odyssey.

So what happened to my shoot of Tinonee? Lindsay went out and I stayed home. Dozen madder. It'll get done. And now it's THAT time again. Oops! Almost forgot the Paralympics medal count: Same placings as yesterday: China 95/231, Russia 35/101, Britain 33/118, Ukraine 32/83, Australia 31/83, US 30/96. Brazil has snuck up to 7th again with 20/42. Click here if you wanna check the whole kit and kaboodle.

Also on the Beeb: Two rare tornadoes have hit New York City's borough of Queens and Brooklyn, damaging homes, causing blackouts and throwing debris into the air. The first storm, with winds up to 70mph (113km/h), struck Breezy Point on Queens' Rockaway Peninsula. The second tornado, with gusts reaching 110mph, hit Brooklyn's Canarsie area just minutes later. No injuries were reported, but the storms forced the suspension of the US Open tennis tournament.

And... Sir Paul McCartney has been given France's highest award, the Legion of Honour, for services to music. The former Beatle was decorated by President Francois Hollande during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

So that's about it, folks, time to vamoose for another day. Gary

September 8, 2012. Another weekend and my fav Tar Heeler reckons if his Studebaker looked like the one I photographed he wouldn't drive it... not even in the dark. Hehe. Yes, it was a bit radical... chopped they call them. The reason I know Art is a Tar Heeler is because on Planet America last night it was North Carolina's turn to be featured in a short bio of each of the states in the US. Turpentine was (is?) one of its main products which is interesting because in Oz we call having a drink getting "on the turps", or being drunk "fulla turps". Hogs are big biz in Tar Heeler country as well.

Art also comments on Bill Clinton's speech at the Dem Convention: Yep, Bill Clinton delivered a stemwinder speech at Demo Convention. Jon Stewart, host of a news spoof show on Comedy Central, quipped, “Bill Clinton was to make a speech for Barack Obama last night [Wednesday] ended five minutes ago.”

48 minutes well spent, though. One American commentator and former pollie who worked with Clinton back in the early days said on Planet America that Bill was a one off, an exception, a skilled orator who could present material that might otherwise be boring in such a way as to make it compelling as well as relevant. Another commentator on the show who said he'd heard every speech made at every convention (on both sides of the aisle) for the last 40 years rated Bill's as the best he'd ever heard from anyone. Michelle's speech was also rated highly. And Barack's? Competent, reasonably inspirational, but not his best. I suppose one could argue that after Michelle's and Bill's speeches, why bother?

One issue in particular that Bill made relevant was Medicaid. The Republicans ignored it because poor people don't vote. But Bill pointed out that many people who rely on Medicaid are in nursing homes, and that older people DO vote.

Moreover, the fact checkers have been busy criticizing Paul Ryan's and Mitt Romney's speeches for factual errors but, so far, can't find anything wrong with those made by the Dems. Whether or not that counts in November remains to be seen. For one thing, according to the Beeb, President Obama's hope for campaign momentum after his convention speech is stymied by lacklustre jobs data, pounced on by his Republican rival. All very interesting, yes?

Meanwhile, placings on Day 9 at the Paralympics haven't changed since yesterday: China 83/206, Britain 32/114, Russia 32/92, Ukraine 30/74, Oz 29/75, US 27/85. It's pretty close with only 5 golds separating 2nd and 6th. China's off the planet, so they don't count.

This Waffle is coming to you from Taree, a pin prick on the world map, and a speck of dust in the cosmos.

I saw on telly last night that one our most successful and celebrated authors, Bryce Courtenay, was diagnosed with incurable cancer and given 6 months to live. "We've all got to die sometime," he said philosophically. His book The Power of One sold 12 million copies. Yes, we've all got to die sometime but I'm not sure that Nature's timing is always convenient. I mean when was the last time you woke in the morning and thought, "Nothing to do today, so this would be a good time to die"? Courtenay's last novel Jack of Diamonds is due out in November. He said he wants to be buried vertically in a cardboard box and have a tree planted over him. What a nice idea. Much nicer than some cold and lifeless headstone...

Hello, friend, this is me.
A tall and stately evergreen tree.
Alive and flourishing for eternity.
Nourished by what remains of me.

Another report from the Beeb: The chairman of a charity providing music therapy to street children around the world, has been jailed for 30 years for sexually abusing young boys. Simon McCarty, 40, from Surrey, was sentenced at the US District Court in Honolulu, Hawaii. McCarty earlier admitted abusing young boys and making videos of child pornography between 2005 and 2007. I've often wondered what causes pedophilia. My theory is that it has something to do with being emotionally stunted. Obviously, some pedophiles are capable of forming adult relationships (such as those who are married with children) but there seems to be something about their emotional makeup that failed to make liftoff.

Whaddaya think of this shot? I was playing around with the Fuji S1800 macro setting just to see what it could do. It's another windy day so the damn camelia was going in and out of focus (from just a few centimeters away) and refused to stay still! As it happened, it was fortuitous because I took a pic as the flower moved away and allowed a rush of light to flood into the frame. I think it looks rather artistic.

Here's another macro; this time of the wisteria. It's pretty but also a bloody weed taking over the joint.

Roite, meatloaf's mixed...kilo (2 pound) ground steak, good pinch mixed herbs, 2 cloves crushed garlic, what was left of a can of diced tomatoes, egg, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, cup shredded parmesan, chopped onion, chopped celery stick, ground pepper... um, did I forget something? I don't think so. Sometimes I add a teaspoon or two of curry powder but I think that might compete with the parmesan, so I didn't this time. Anyway, it's sitting at room temp on the bench allowing the flavors to meld for a few hours before being plunged mercilessly into a moderate oven for 1 1/4 hours to roast, together with quartered spuds and some pumpkin quarters (do you know anyone who pronounces pumpkin 'punkin'?). Before the plunge, the top of the meatloaf as well the spuds will be sprayed with cooking oil, and the spuds will get a generous sprinkle of mixed herbs. The finished masterpiece will be soived with rich brown gravy.

I bought regular ground steak rather than premium cos the extra fat content is better for roasting and also improves carving (and flavor). So there.

Jeez, I haven't cooked anything like this since last year! Next weekend I think I'll roast a marinated chicken in a bag. BTW, that fish fillet in a bag with lemon and parsley sauce, micro'd for 5 minutes the other night, was quite noice, and I still have one left over. The flesh is flaky and can be eaten with a fork no wukkers.

My dancing tree has stopped. If it's calm tomorrow I might re-shoot Tinonee and maybe do Croki as well. We'll see. And I won't forget the monopod! But for now, dear viewers, it's almost 5pm and getting close to meatloaf in the oven time, not to mention spud peeling and pumpkin peeling. I wonder if North Carolina is also famous for pumpkins. We had a state premier's wife back in the '80s who was just as famous for her pumpkin scones as her husband was for his politics. Joh Bjelke Don't-You-Worry-About-That Petersen. What a character he was.

Anyway, time to get cracking in the kitchen. Gary

September 7, 2012. Sometimes a bloke's gotta crack the whip to keep the boys in line. NC Art wrote: OK OK, that was a flash Buick. While it was tooling around town I was driving a ‘47 Studebaker! Tough as nails and given enough time, would wind up to 70 mph and run all day on one fill up of gasoline [petrol to you I guess]. The poor beast got caught in two monstrous hailstorms within one hour on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Some of the hail pellets were the size of my fist and beat dents in every part of the car. I couldn’t stand to look at such a grievously wounded creature and traded it for a used ‘52 Ford, Souped up with ground cylinder head to increase compression and twin Dynetone mufflers for sound effects. Got stopped once for improper equipment, so I was forced to drive sedately where there might be constabulary lurking. The damned car could hardly make it from one fill up station to the next. What a hog, but fun while it lasted.

I remember those early Studebakers. My dad said they looked like they were going backwards because of the rear window design. Here's a pic of one I took a few years ago at a car show in Taree. I'm also familiar with the '52 Ford Custom. I got lost as a kid in my own suburb (can you believe that?) and walked into a tailor's shop. It was almost closing time so I waited around for a while and then he drove me home. I remember being sooooo impressed by that car and can still smell the leather. I was about four feet nothing at the time and it seemed so BIG inside!

TX Greg also got the fingers tapping: Well maybe the Buick just didn't have the right kind of wobbly parts, hehe :) I got rushed the other day and forgot to tell you, that story about you in Doodle Waddle got me rolling on the floor :)  It would take days to make a graphic of what you described in that one!

And guess who's back? Francois has returned from his 900 nautical mile trip around the Belep Islands, north of New Caledonia. He says keeping up with two energetic teens on two boats for 40 days was quite a challenge, and one that caused his health to suffer a bit. He says he now has to sort through over 4000 photos for his web site.

Do those lips remind you of someone you used to know?

And there's breakfast. I have no idea what kind of fish it is but I can see that it's less than thrilled with being hauled out of the water. Francois says: The sea even not very clear, is quiet and beautiful and the fishes are so big and numerous I didn't imagine it'd exist. If this islands weren't so far of my daughter's, I'd go and live there, at the rythm of the sea and sun, far of our stupid civilization...

Well, that's about as far from "our stupid civilization" as you can get. And I must say it looks very tempting. If I'm not mistaken, that dog looks like it has a bit of Australian Kelpie in the breed. Francois also says, Tribes of kanaks are nice and interresting peoples: much more than many white men! The kids even dragged me in their church for a mass with their music... once is not bad. Landscapes and villages are unforgetable.

And by the way, here's lunch... (the one on the right, dummy).

Thanks for the pics (with permission to post them) and the update, Francois. It's also a great insight into what the pages of Aussie Odyssey will look like when I'm on the road... lots of pics to illustrate the places I'm currently visiting and what's going on... as well as the usual albums and videos. However, unlike Francois, I'll have the advantage of updating the site each day (or two) rather than accumulating 000's of pics over a long period. Even when I'm in areas where there's no phone or internet connection, I'll still have everything ready to be uploaded as soon as I'm back on line again. At least, that's the theory. 

Meanwhile, what's happening with the Paralympics? Britain has regained second placing over Russia but the next three placings remain the same: China 70/183, Britain 31/108, Russia 31/85, Ukraine 27/68, Australia 25/69, US 23/71.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama will use his Democratic convention speech to tell American voters they face the "choice of a generation". There was an Aussie "expert" on American politics last night on telly who was asked how many Aussies are interested in American politics. "Not many," he said, "but there are a few." In my case, I've always been interested in what America does on the world stage, right from the Cold War days when JFK was assassinated. That event shocked the world. But it wasn't until Obama was elected that I began to take an interest in American politics and politicians per se (although I was kinda impressed with Bill Clinton). I find myself actually barracking for Barack even though I don't have a vote. Back when GWB was elected the first time around I figured he was one of two American candidates and it didn't really matter which one ended up in the White House. In fact, I supported Bush's invasion of Iraq just after 9/11 which was something Francois and I disagreed upon. One time I called him a silly man. As it turned out, there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction and no Bin Laden. I can understand now why Francois would rather live with the Kanaks on The Belep islands instead of in "our stupid civilization".

By now you would have heard Obama's speech at the Dem Convention. No razzle-dazzle rhetoric, just plain speaking... the choice of a generation between two very different ideologies and 'a better place'. I've heard no one name GWB as the culprit who caused the country to sink into a finanical mire but it's pretty obvious that he's the one they're pointing the finger at. I think it's a bit rich of the Republicans to be blaming Obama for the troubles he inherited. Planet America is on tonight so I'll look forward to hearing more about the speeches and any difference they might make to the candidates' electoral chances. One Aussie commentator said last night that we ain't seen nuthin' yet. The election is still two months away and the big advertising campaigns are yet to begin.

Guess what I'm doing? Making chips! Last time I popped a chip into the ole north and south was 9 months ago. It's only a small potato and about a dozen chips, so it's a trial. Stand by! Salt is not normally something I add to cooked food but chips are the exception. Mmmm. Oops! Too soon. They're bloody HOT! But they look good... just right... lightly golden and a little bit crisp on the outside. Yes! Success! I'm now into my third chip. I can hear my stomach saying, "Looky looky at what's coming! Yummy, yummy!" Actually, they're pretty easy to eat... just the right size, and soft in the center. Chips are definitely back on the menu. For one thing, I desperately need bulking up. I'm starting to make Lindsay look like Arnie.

Been another hottie today but also windy. Fortunately for us on the north coast, the gale force winds have been limited to the south coast of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Poor buggers have had to put up with uprooted trees, power lines down, roofs blown off, and all the usual mayhem. One unlucky 70 y/o driver slammed into a fallen tree lying across the road and was killed. That's when you notice just how big a tree can be. I came across one on a dirt road a few years ago in a national park not far from here. Fortunately, I saw it well in advance. No way I could get around or past that thing, so I had to double back. Its girth was as high as the front of my car. Trees are wonderful things, and I love them dearly... provided they remain vertical. And don't catch fire.

What was I just saying about the wind? The tree down the road (which I can see through the window) is dancing around like a drunken ballerina, and I can hear the howling.

And here we are again, ladies and genitals, on this eve of yet another Satdee... it's time to say 10 4 (or whatever it is those truckies say on their CBs)... roger, message received, over and out, and all that yadda yadda. It's telly time! And dinner? I think I'll pig out on some pasta... macaroni cheese. Gary

September 6, 2012. Millions, literally millions, of people emailed me yesterday to say how much they enjoyed the pics of the old Buick. Yeah, right. It's a good thing I'm not overly sensitive.

However, ONE person, namely NC Art, did comment on the old Tinonee lockup: That jail in Tinonee [whatever] reminds me of the lockup in Dayton, TN. During the Scopes trial for teaching evolution against state law, since everyone knew that the earth was 6,000 years old and God made Adam out of dust and Eve out of Adam’s rib. A big city news reporter was locked up to keep him from filing stories about the courtroom farce. Temp topped 105F degrees, so you can imagine how the poor devil sweated and gasped for several hours. The big story was some big lawyers. Clarence Darrow came from Chicago to defend poor Scopes, and William Jennings Bryan, the silver tongued orator and perennial presidential candidate, arrived to assist the prosecution.  What a circus. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100. He didn’t have ten cents so Darrow paid the fine and the Chicago Tribune had a field day reporting on a swell comedy. It took place the year I was born—1925—so I had to read about it later. Footnote: Bryan, the preacher/lawyer/gadabout, ate a whopping Sunday dinner of fried chicken, potatoes, gravy, beans, and apple pie—and died of a stroke right after.

At least he had the decency to finish his meal before he left the table. Anyway, no filluming today... too windy. The tall tree a few doors down the road is waving about like a drunken sailor. Lindsay is taking advantage of my being home to "have a drink with the boys" at the pub. Yeah, right. There's only one "boy". It has lots of buttons and flashing lights and eats money.

I watched clips of Michelle Obama making her speech to the Dem Convention on telly last night. She's a bright lady. Americans love all that stuff about doing it tough as a youth and struggling through college, etc... buying suits off the rack. It's all about "humanizing" the President before he takes center stage. So far, the polls have Obama and Romney neck and neck, but I have a feeling that'll change as the election draws nearer. I'll be very surprised if Obama doesn't serve a second term.

The medal tally at the Paralympics on Day 7 continues to be close (with the exception of China). Britain has slipped to 3rd behind Russia, and the US is nudging Oz for 5th hehe. China 60/159, Russia 28/73, Britain 25/92, Ukraine 22/59, Oz 22/61, US 21/64.

Well, it's goodbye to the Sony camera. I bought it 4 years ago when it was already 4/5 years old so it's getting a bit long in the tooth. Might as well auction it now while it's still worth something. Besides, I never use it. I still have 3 Fujis. The old Kodak doesn't count. That's already a museum piece.

30C at the mo (mid afternoon) which is 86F. How's that for a spring day? It won't last long though... back to normal in a day or two. Lately, I've been hanging out for a meatloaf with roast spuds and pumpkin. No point in making one for just li'l ole me, though, so I told L&S I'd make one on the weekend when Sue doesn't have meals on wheels delivered. There'll be enough for Sunday as well, with mash, peas and gravy. It cost $19 for the ground steak, spuds, onions, pumpkin, celery and parmesan. Divide that by 6 servings and you get a bit over $3 a pop. Tonight, fish is on the menu for me... steamed in the micro with lemon and parsley sauce. I should be able to handle that.

Interestingly, I just popped into the camper for something and noticed that it wasn't hot, not even after a long day in the sun and being locked up. I guess it must have insulation of some kind. Figures... it has all new interior lining. So that's a bonus!

It's been a quiet day, dear Breth, and that's putting it mildly. Maybe things will liven up a little tomorrow. Gary

September 5, 2012. Day six of the Paralympics and Oz has slipped to 5th. Mind you, there's not much between 2nd and 6th with Brazil knocking on the door in 7th place. China 53/132, Britain 23/79, Russia 23/62, Ukraine 18/50, Oz 18/52, US 14/47.

Checked out an auto newsgroup this morning and spotted this sweet chariot. I could very happily be seen trundling around town in this old girl... a '49 Buick.

If you study the middle pic, it's easy to see where the first Holden got its styling from. Anyway, I can imagine that Buick turning plenty of heads in its day, and there it is still turning heads over 60 years later. In fact, I'm willing to bet that it turns more heads than many of its younger siblings. What a stunning maaaachine!

Stan the Lawn Man is here and I spoke to him about making me a little laptop table for the camper. No worries. He also knows a bloke who's selling his table-top ute but it's too early for me. I ain't got the dough yet. $5000 for a 2002 Ford Courier with only 130K kms is pretty good value. It's the local undertaker's ute so you can guess what it was used for. Hehe. Never mind, mine will arrive when the time is right.

Speaking of trucks, I saw this M&M truck on a newsgroup this morning. What a cute idea!

From the Beeb: US Democrats launch their national convention to make the case that the US economy's best chance of revival lies in re-electing President Obama. Yes, folks, it's party time again! I'll be sure to watch Planet America this Friday to see all the highlights.

China warns the US not to intervene in regional tensions over the South China Sea as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Beijing. Now there's one lady who's not afraid to speak her mind.

A small grey bungalow sits on a quiet street in Port Hedland, Western Australia. It's got three bedrooms, one bathroom and a gravel front yard. The house rents for A$3,000 ($3,097; £1,957) a week - and it is by no means the most expensive property in town. Four-bed houses cost more and if you want to buy, you'll need a million. Yep, it's happening in a lot of small towns in Oz. The mining companies move in, accommodation becomes scarce and rents go up, real estate prices go up, food goes up, and everything else goes up. Read the full story here.

Back from Tinonee, a small village not far from here. But it was a waste of time. I forgot to bring the monopod so all the video footage is shaky. The bigger Fuji doesn't have a stabilizer. However, there was no flare problem because the lens can be fitted with a hood. Soooo, I'll have to shoot it all over again. There's not a helluva lot that's of any great interest at Tinonee so I'll shoot a couple of other villages around the traps as well and edit a collage.

I did manage to take a few stills though, one of which is the old Tinonee lockup, c 1891. There were a few things stored in the "hallway" so I didn't take a pic of the cells inside. I might next time.

What did I say about the bigger Fuji not having a stabilizer? Just now I did a test in front of the house of the traffic, using the monopod. Not bad. Not absolutely perfect but not bad. It'll do.

So all that buggerizing around for nothing means the day's gone with not much to show for it. Never mind, there's always tomorrow and hopefully a few more tomorrows after that. Oh.... and another thing I forgot at Tinonee... the general store. Can't have a vid without the general store! In fact, that's the only store Tinonee has.

And that's it, ladies and genitals, time to fade to black until we meet again. Gary

September 4, 2012. Let's fast-forward to sometime in 2013. Well, ladies and genitals, here I am camped just outside Doodle Waddle, a small town in South Oz near Bingabungabonga. It's raining cats and dogs and I'm stuck inside the camper for the third day in a row. One of the rear wheels is bogged in a hole fulla mud so I dunno how the hell I'm gonna extricate the Ute from that mess. It's also caused the camper to lean at an angle so the damn fridge won't work... and it's humid as hell. The solar panel has stopped working, of course, and the batteries are low. The bloke next door has decided to amuse himself with hillybilly country music playing at a zillion decibles so I can hardly think. Otherwise, the Odyssey is going really well despite the four flat tires so far and that fat lady who keeps borrowing cups of sugar...

Hmmm. Back to the present, and it's a magnificent spring day in Taree... sunny, bright and warm. Lindsay has toddled off somewhere and left me in charge of collecting Sue's dinner from the meals on wheels person and paying the weekly bill. What's he gonna do when I'm no longer here? 

Next on the shopping list is a tool box. At the mo, I have an assortment of tools in a drawer... a hammer, various screwdrivers, spanners, a pruning saw, pruning shears, wrench, pliers, allen keys, screws, nails, nuts and bolts, wire, rope and whatever. It all needs to be neatly packed away and stored in the camper. I'll need extras as well... axe, spade, crow bar, yadda yadda. I already have a general purpose tool kit... a cheapie in a plastic box. Nothing flash but good enough. I also have a foot pump, a couple of ground sheets, tent, beach shade, pop up shower/loo tent, porta potti, 3 camp chairs, first aid kit...

I could probably draw up a list of all the things I'll need but I suspect it'll frighten the daylights outta me, so I better not. I figure buying a little at a time will lessen the impact. But it is exciting... kinda... slowly preparing for the big event. Remember when Wingnut's mom helped him pack for the mountain hike with all the guys and put pajamas in his backpack? Hehe. He was outraged.

But back to my stuff... The stove has a grill compartment but no tray. I'm not sure I wanna grill stuff anyway. Too much spitting of fat which means CLEANING. I think I'll leave that kinda cooking to outdoors except for simple things like grilled cheese and tomato on toast. Which means I'll need a grill tray. Okay. Done.

I hope I'm not boring you but it's not every day you pack for a 10 year trip.

Oops! Oz has slipped to 4th in the Paralympics medal tally on day 5. China's waaaaaay out in front, but it's pretty tight for the next 5 placings: China 46/112, Britain 19/63, Russia 16/49, Oz 16/48, Ukraine 15/42, US 12/40.

I see on the Beeb that Obama is doing his rolled-up sleeves and open neck trick in Louisiana where the floods have caused havoc. I wonder if he'll be more sartorially splendiferous at the Democratic Convention. I also hear that Bill Clinton will make the opening address, which reminds me that George W Bush was conspicuous by his absence at the Republican Convention. Clint Eastwood wasn't... and went over like a lead balloon. Oh, the fun and games of it all.

Also from the Beeb: A ban on smoking in enclosed public places has come into effect in Lebanon, prompting sit-in protests by some restaurant and cafe owners. Smoking, which is banned in public in much of Europe and the United States, is very popular in Lebanon. Tell me about it. Oz has now passed legislation in favor of plain packaging. Light up a smoke in Oz these days and you're likely to be stoned to death. Meanwhile, the Australian government continues to profit from the LEGAL sale of tobacco products: Competing in a highly regulated environment, more than 70 per cent of the retail price of our products is collected by the Australian government in the form of excise. In 2009/2010 tobacco excise is estimated to contribute 24% of total excise collected. This amounts to approximately $6 billion dollars in government revenue from British American Tobacco Australia alone. BAT has just under half the Australian market, so the total revenue would be something in the order of $13-$14b. Who'd wanna ban the sale of tobacco altogether when you're making that kinda loot? Then there's the booze gig as well.

A Jehovah's Witness just told me he's envious, to which I replied "so you should be". He knocked at the door and handed me a brochure asking if I'd like to wake up every morning with happy, positive thoughts. So I told him I was already positive 'cos I'd just made a pancake with sugar and lemon juice which I was about to devour. Anyway, according to the brochure, Jehovah has plans to create new heavens and a new earth (and possibly pancakes), and if we dummies don't do something about it, like attend "the fascinating talk" at an upcoming convention, we'll miss out.

It's all in the Bible ya know, along with all the other cool stuff like Adam and Eve attending Cain's wedding to a gorilla.

There's a lot of talk in Oz about the new Aussie movie, The Sapphires, a story based on the REAL Sapphires, a group of Aboriginal girls from a mission who formed a singing group to entertain American troops in Vietnam during the late '60s. I saw one of the original Sapphires interviewed and she was very matter of fact about the reason the band formed in the first place... just to buy food for the community! Those girls were the most unlikely of candidates for stardom. The reviews so far are wonderful, so put that in your diary. Australian Aborigines are becoming increasingly prominent figures in the entertainment biz, which is a good thing for the community's morale. They need their heroes and role models, and this film apparently provides them in abundance.

Lookie, lookie, almost 5pm. Where did the day go? Are you sure there are 24 hours in every day? By the way, do you know why there are 24 hours in each day? The answer was on a recent episode of QI. It's because 24 is divisible by 2, 3, 4 etc, so it can be segmented into seconds, minutes and hours. The panelists argued for digital time with 20 hours a day, 10 in the am and 10 in the pm. Hmmm. That would mean 50 seconds in a digital minute and 50 minutes in a digital hour. Would that work? I dunno... too late in the day for me to wrap my brain around that one. And I don't even wanna think about a digital year, with 10 months. Lemme see... 365 days = 36.5 days a month. Nah, forget it.

I think I might whip up scrambled eggs tonight. I'd love chips with it but not sure I'm ready for chips just yet. Tempting though. Gary

September 3, 2012. TX Greg wrote to say the size of the panos yesterday caused him to scroll left and right on his monitor, which means he'd have to keep scrolling for the rest of this month's Waffle. Soooo, I altered the size. He also wonders how the larger size looks on smart phones. You would think sizes would adjust automatically from one screen to another - like the telecast image on different size TV screens - but apparently they don't. 

I remember when Cinemascope first arrived in theaters and the screens had to be widened to accommodate the new format. It certainly made the old 35mm film format look a bit boxy. BTW, I guess that's the reason cameras at tennis matches are placed at the ends of the court rather than the sides. It makes following the trajectory of the ball much easier. Tennis balls can reach speeds of 150mph and more.

Meanwhile, Lindsay reckons the sky's falling in because I bought a mini vac for the camper. It means I'm leaving, which means he and Sue have to move out cos they can't afford this big house by themselves. He bitched this morning about having to drag Sue's old wardrobe (stored in the spare garage) through the laundry because the camper is blocking the drive. Oh? How can the camper be blocking the drive if I'm leaving? Hehe. What a dunce. I don't bother to respond cos it's pointless.

I had a Dust Buster years ago (dunno where the thing went to) with a really rough electric motor. I expected something similar from the Hoover but was pleasantly surprised this morning (after it had been on charge all night) to hear a really smooth motor. Things have improved over the years! BTW, I bought my regular size Volta about 25 years ago and the thing is still working like a charm. Before that, I had an old barrel Electrolux but my cleaning lady refused to use it.

Anyway, I checked the camper and there's not a bug in sight. Also no sign of any more sawdust. All is quiet on the western front. So I christened the Hoover and it did a splendid job, all in just seconds. It also fits neatly into a nook at the side of the gas bottle bin, together with its bag of attachments.

Day 4 of the Paralympics and Oz has slipped to 3rd behind China and Britain. Yep, it was a bit too good to be true. But even 3rd for a country the size of Oz is pretty damn cool. China 35/87, Britain 15/51, Oz 13/36, Ukraine 13/29, Russia 9/29, US 7/28. Brazil is creeping up at 6/13. 

Lots of famous showbiz peeps falling off the perch lately. Max Bygraves and Hal David yesterday. I suspect younger peeps don't notice because those names don't mean anything to them. It's only now, in my 60s, that I'm becoming more aware of the thinning ranks and my own mortality. I watched an interview with an Aussie "shock jock" the other night - Derryn Hinch. He's had quite a controversial career, having been jailed for contempt of court. His nickname is 'The Human Headline'. Last year, his life was saved by a liver transplant. He's the same age as me, but the interviewer referred to him as "almost 70". Grrrr. She also asked him if he wanted to leave a lasting legacy and he replied no. As far as he's concerned, you do your best each day and that's it. When it's all over, it's all over. "We're all just ants", he said. "Just ants." I'm not sure I agree with that, but I do think that human beings overestimate their own importance as individuals. It's the human race as a whole that matters. Individuals come and go, but the race carries on.

The only reason I'm keen to do the Odyssey and leave a legacy of observations in words and images is because I don't see the point of living a life without purpose. What else would I do?

Finding a place to store the mini vac in the camper was interesting. It's the first of many things whose place will be in the camper... bedding, clothes, cooking untensils, eating and drinking ware, a pantry full of goodies, a fridge full of more goodies, storage boxes packed with camp furniture, tools and all the things that make life more comfortable. It's all those things that make a house a home; that provide a sense of belonging. Many times in my life I've moved house and paused one last time to look at the place I called home. But once all your "things" are no longer there, you're looking at an empty shell. The soul has gone. So the theory is, the more I keeping adding to the camper, the more like home it'll become. Yeah?

From the Beeb: The White House has released details of one of its most closely guarded secrets - the recipe for President Barack Obama's home-brewed honey ale. The beer is believed to be the first-ever made at the White House. The recipe was kept under wraps until 13,000 people signed an online petition demanding to know it, and someone even filed a freedom of information request. Read more here.

Now here's an experiment with a pano of the house in Taree...

Obviously, the fence has no curve... it's straight as a dye... so there is distortion (exacerbated by a wide-ish 28mm lens). But the photo was taken from fairly close range just to see what would happen. Interesting, yes? That's my bedroom on the left. Next to that is the Ute's bedroom and next to that is the camper. The big green thing in the background is a tree. Do you have trees over there? Anyway, I thought this might be an interesting format to use to capture the main street of a small town, for example. The stitch points are the pillars just to the right of the main living room, and the left edge of my bedroom window.

Can you see the number 22 just below the second set of pillars? No, of course not. But I can... at least I can when I view the original at full size on the comp screen. It measures about 4 screens wide (52"), and the detail is great for a cheap camera ($200 new). Even the stitch points are invisible. One Red Bubbler who favorited one of the Manning River panos said "That's a great camera you got, Gary". That's from a bloke who has a compact Samsung, a Panasonic Lumix FZ18 and a Nikon D5000. Yep, Fuji makes good cameras. It also makes high-end pro cameras as well as all kinds of sophisticated optical equipment for medical and business purposes. I remember complimenting one Red Bubbler for his impressive shot of a vintage Beetle and commented that he must have used a pretty awesome camera. But he answered, "Nope, just a Fuji Finepix." Well, now that I own 3 Fujis, I know there's no "just" about it.

One shot I'm keen to try is a pano of the Ute from close up. I dunno if that's possible though... getting in close and maintaining sufficient height. It might work with the ship when I'm in Sydney though, if I can find the right vantage point. Ah, the thought of all those possibilities! Another one I thought of earlier today is a shot similar to the house but with a (cooperative) pedestrian walking down the street and appearing in each of the three frames hehe. That'd be fun. Actually, it'd be more fun if the pedestrian was walking the dog.

4:30 now and the heater's on. It's been a sunny and warm day but once that sun starts heading west, the temp drops quite sharply. It was pretty fresh this morning too when I staggered to the loo just after 6am. Once the pee was over, I staggered right smartly back to bed and slept until about 7:15.

So wot's for din dins? I pulled one of those veal/pork meatball thingies in foil from the freezer earlier today to defrost. There were no sliced mushrooms in that one, so I opened the parcel and spooned in a goodly amount of canned mushrooms in butter sauce. That'll do the trick. Then the usual telly, which I think will get the flick on the Odyssey. There'll be too much else to do and investigate to spend time in front of the tube. Radio and the net will keep me up to date. Goodbye routine, hello adventure.

So I hope I'm right about this sudden and dramatic change of lifestyle hehe. It all sounds pretty cool in theory, and a helluva lot more exciting than sitting around doing the same old, same old, every day. But then I've always been nervous about change despite having had more changes than a baby with severe diarrhea. I think I've lived in close to 30 different places over the years. The Odyssey will soon put that to shame though. The difference this time around will be same house, different location. L8r, dudes. Gary

September 2, 2012. As the actress said to the Bishop, it looks better when it's bigger. Sooooooo...

When I worked in North Sydney, I used to frequent a pub where the walls were decorated with B&W pics of old Sydney - panoramas that stretched 20 feet or so. The photos were taken by a pro photographer in the early 1900s who used a tripod to take a series of stills, being ultra careful to match each shot to the next so that 3 or 4 shots could be joined back in the dark room to create a panorama of old Sydney. The quality of the film was extra fine grain so that each shot could be enlarged substantially without losing too much detail. To achieve a similar result, I used a hand-held $200 Fuji where the stitching was done in-camera, on the spot. The images above were reduced to just 20% of the original size to fit this page. The originals are 3MB each and the resizes are 64KB each.

I was thinking last night that if I took a series of panos and turned them into an album for AO, the size of the album frame would be too restrictive. So instead, I'll post an HTML page with images the same size as you see above. Yeah? I'm viewing this page on a 13" wide screen so I'm not sure how it will look on a smaller screen. I guess TX Greg will let me know.

Panos are not something I'll be shooting all the time, but in certain circumstances they're ideal to reveal the "whole picture" as it were. The two images on this page were experimental just to see if I could do it. The alternative to a 3-stitch pano is a fish-eye lens, which is not only HUGELY expensive but also produces a distorted image. Even a 10-12mm wide angle lens produces distortion, and they ain't cheap either! The Fuji zoom starts at 28mm.

NC Art writes: I here shout the praises of your marvelous pano shot! Well, perhaps it wasn’t a masterpiece, but good enough. And I mentioned it in an e-mail...unless I meant to but didn’t...or you didn’t read mail...or the mail didn’t go through. Who knows.
    Anyway the shot was good and I fancy those kinds of photographs. Some purists are all hung up on framing the perfect scene all crammed into a 4x6 or 8x10. But some views cry out for a place in a visible universe. Look at a replica of a James Audubon bird painting. His crane or puffin is the center attraction, but note that the subject is in a settting: Sky, woods, lake, ocean, clouds or sunshine. No, not pano, but the effect can be similar, and the eye follows to the larger message and back to the subject.
    And I ain’t no art critic!
    Follow your hankering to do more with the format. Some of your Odyssey fotos caused me to wonder about what’s to the left or right or even above center stage. In my young days in school, an old photographer did class pictures with a camera he built. Each class picture showed an entire class posed on the front steps of the school building, and everything was in focus with no distortion or parallax. After he died, no one could ever get the same result so well.

Thanks for the critique, Art.

When the Aussie paralympians rocketed to 2nd place on the first day of the Paralympics, I figured we got lucky. When they maintained 2nd place on the second day I thought... no way that can last. And here we are on the third day and they're STILL holding second place! Our able-bodied Olympians must be feeling a bit peeved. China 20/56, Oz 11/29, Britain 9/36, Ukraine 9/22, Russia 8/22, US 6/22. Oz was hoping for 5th place at the regular Olympics but bombed out to 10th. I think we were 17th at one stage so 10th ain't so bad.

Back from shopping and fiddling. I bought a tidy bin that hooks up to the inside of a kitchen cupboard... great idea for the camper because it can't fall over. BUT my cupboard (below the fridge) has a shelf in the middle. Dammit. So I took the tidy back and got a refund. Now I'll settle for two hooks screwed (or glued) to the inside of the cupboard on which to hang a regular plastic bag by the handles. Boom boom. That will cost me a buck or so instead of $20. I also bought a Hoover rechargable HandiVac, wet & dry. I didn't really need wet but what the hell. Besides they didn't have a dry-only one. It wasn't cheap at $70 but I suppose it'll last forever. I've had an Electrolux and a Volta but never a Hoover, so now I'll really be able to do the Hoovering.

I also bought a light bulb for $7. $7 for a light bulb??? It has a life of 8000 hours. And I let off an insecticide bomb in the camper with all the cupboard doors open, so any little nasties in there are in for a rude surprise.

The Ohio boys have pledged $10 each for the Odyssey for which I'm very grateful. Thanks, boys! You rock! That brings the total pledges so far to 120 ($600). My policy is not to name names but the Ohio boys are different.

Ohio Jace wrote to fill in the gaps about Stevie weevie's birthday: Steve was born in 1983 so you were partly right he is 29 (today). Cody and Mark were born in 1982  so Mark will be 30 (already) on October 8 and the Winger was born in 1987. You need a couple of kids so you can remember the dates. I don't want to put you in the box with my father, but he could not remember (or care about) birthdays either. The only way he remembered the wedding anniversary was Mom reminded him.

Have you heard about that little storm named (hurricane) Issac? Well we are in the second rain band of the day and still no rain, just lightning and sprinkles. the main remnant is not due in Ohio until late Sunday or Monday and this is a holiday weekend. The first band, this morning, barely wet the pavement. We were on pace to set an all time heat record of high temperatures. The current record is 49 days above 90 degrees F and we have hit it 47 times many above 100 degrees F.  The forecast midweek was for 4 to 6 inches of rain it has been downgraded to 1 to 3. Any rain will be appreciated, the creek has been dry since June the river is low enough to wade across not that I want to touch that polluted water or eat anything out of it.

I've heard about the severe drought in parts of the US. Normally, it's Oz that bitches about droughts but we've had good rain lately and it looks like we'll be selling stacks of grain to the US. As to summer temps, the fire service is warning of an abundance of tinder dry grass as tall as a man in many areas of Oz which is likely to cause havoc next fire season. I've seen the carnage caused by those terrible fires in Spain lately but I think Oz is more sparsely populated. Oregon Richie tells me the air around his neck of the woods has often been thick with smoke in recent weeks. I can't imagine anything more terrifying than being in the path of a raging bushfire. If the flames don't git ya, the radiated heat will. Or the flying embers. I dunno about fires in other parts of the world, but here in Oz where there are large areas of eucalypts, the evaporating oil in the forest canopy catches alight and forms a massive fireball that travels at high speed in whichever direction the wind is blowing. I've heard people say it's an incredibly frightening phenomenon to witness, particularly if you happen to be in its path.

Yes, dear Breth, you can rest assured I'll be watching the weather reports like a hawk on the Odyssey.

One of the best known Aussies of all time, if not THE best known, is Edward Kelly, aka Ned, the notorious bushranger who was hanged at age 24 for his crimes back on November 11, 1880. His last words were, "Such is life." But BR Joao has just discovered the Aussie icon: I subscribe a magazine called Archaeology. Who is in this month number? Your grand-grand-grand-cousin Ned Kelly. Well, not exactly him, but his remains. Wow, he was the man! When he was short of money he took more from the Bank of South Wales. I don’t know if he has an account there, but it doesn’t matter. He used a beautiful prophetical beard by the time he was arrested and has a home-made armor he used to face the cops. You can read the complete article on the net, what makes me ask: why I pay for the paper edition? Please, don’t answer.

Yes, poor ol' Ned ran outta iron so he didn't fashion armor for his legs. Or maybe he thought they'd be too unwieldy. And that's how the cops got him. He was shot in the legs and hit the deck during the Glenrowan Siege, his final stand against the colony's constabulary. Criminal or folk hero? Aussies are divided over the issue, but it's probably the latter. Australia's first feature-length film (and indeed the world's) was The Story of the Kelly Gang made in 1906 on a budget of USD2250. The remake in the early 1970s starred Mick Jagger.

There was talk within the family that we were related to Ned but it appears not. My mother's maiden name was Clampett (Ellen Kathleen). The Kellys on my dad's side arrived from Ireland by ship in the mid 1800s and settled in Sydney. Ned was born in Victoria in 1855. There was also talk that we were related to The Wild Colonial Boy, Jack Doolan, but I suspect it's wishful thinking. Having outlaw ancestors in Oz is quite the claim to fame. And then there's me... the square peg. Hehe.

And here we are again, time to unWaffle for another day. Lindsay bought some lamb chops and wants me to cook them for him and Sue tonight. The bloody nerve! But I'll do it anyway. Thanks to y'all for your contributions and for tuning in. Gary

September 1, 2012. Guess whose birthday it is today? Stevie weevie! I think he's 28. Maybe 29. He was a year younger than Cody... a grommet when they first met in the surf. I still think his story of coming to terms with Cody's death, battling drug addiction, resolving his relationship with Mark and facing the school bully (with Wingnut coaching him) is one of the classic stories of all time. And on top of that was the challenge of "getting to know" his father. But there's more! His relationship with Fingers. What a story! And the kid hadn't even turned 21 yet.

I've known quite a few peeps in my time but those two, Cody and Steve, would have to be the standouts. BTW, even after all these years, there are still people visiting Codysworld and leaving messages in the guestbook.

I woke this morning thinking, "Goody! I can read all those thousands of comments about how exciting the pano pics are." Not one. None. Nonenonenonenonenonenonenone. Well, you can all get nicked cos I'm excited. So there. Last night, I watched a reporter doing a standup from Kirribilli wharf with Sydney in the background... all the way from the Harbor Bridge on the right, across the Quay skyline, and over to the Opera House. Magic! So I definitely gotta get that shot when I'm in the Big Smoke. I'll catch the Kirribilli ferry, disembark, do the pano, wander down to the foreshore under the bridge, get a few more shots, walk further west for a shot of the Opera House framed by the bridge, yadda, yadda, return to Kirribilli, catch the ferry back to the Quay and then another to Darling Harbor. I'll be a busy boy! It'll be interesting getting video of the city from on board a ferry, though.

The tricky thing about shooting a pano of the harbor will be moving boats. Ya can't have the same ferry twice in the one shot... or half a ferry. Hehe. So I'll have to watch that.

The Beach Boys are in Oz for their 50th Anniversary Tour... a bunch of septuagenarians singing classics from the 60s and 70s. One of them was asked "How do you sing so well at 70?" and he replied, "I've had 50 years practice." Paul McCartney says his all-time favorite song is 'God Only Knows'. One of the BBs said, "We knew it was a good song... just not how good." At the end of the report on telly, the host - who's mid/late 30s or so said, "What a band!" Even young Josh counts the Beach Boys as one of his favorite bands. I guess if music is good in the first place, it's good period.

Good heavens again! Second day of the Paralympics and Oz is still second: China 13/34, Oz 7/19, Ukraine 6/16, Russia 5/11, Britain 4/20, US 4/11.

One commentator on telly last night talking about the 3 Aussie soldiers killed by an Afghan soldier made an interesting observation; he said the Afghan army would be just as shocked as we are at the murder, and just as troubled. The guy was a rogue individual probably with some personal hangup. But it's a legitimate observation in that it's wrong to blame the whole Afghan army for the actions of one deranged soldier.

And what about Clint Eastwood yesterday doing his "make my day" routine with an invisible Obama at the GOP convention in Florida? He attracted more comment on Facebook and Twitter than Romney. A lot of people thought Eastwood's performance was rambling and unnecessary, and one commentator I watched on Planet America thought Romney's speech was "bland". Moreover, he said Paul Ryan told porkies (pork pies = lies)... blatant distortions of facts that will soon come back to haunt him.

I had pancakes for lunch AGAIN. This time I had two. I made them smaller (easier to eat) with just the right amount of crispiness around the edges. It pays to experiment, yes?

It's officially the first day of spring in Oz, sunny but with a cold wind blowing. Bleh. But that will abate by late Sunday and the days will improve. The cancer radiotherapy and stomach tube are behind me now, and my health is improving sufficiently to get out and about a bit more to enjoy the sun... and photography, of course.

Late afternoon now and the heater's on. Dunno if it's old age or being underweight but I find it difficult to handle the cold. Brrrr. Gimme mid to late 20s C and I'll be a contented camper (late 70s, early 80s F). Speaking of which, my next item on the shopping list is a rechargable mini-vac for the camper. It gets a bit dusty inside, and I've noticed sawdust as well. Not sure if it's the result of the recent renovation (timber cupboards, linings, etc) or little nasties munching away on the frame. I think letting off one of those insecticide bombs might be a good idea... just in case.

Meanwhile, watch out for mouse droppings according to a Beeb report: Up to 10,000 visitors to Yosemite park may have been exposed this summer to a rare and deadly virus transmitted by mouse droppings, officials say. 

Remember the good old days when thieves used to rob banks? It's different now: Thieves in Canada have stolen millions of dollars worth of highly prized maple syrup from a storage facility, Quebec police have said.

My stomach's rumbling. I suspect it's trying to tell me something. So, Ls and Gs, it's time for me to exit stage left and close the curtains for yet another day. Not all that thrilling, I'm afraid, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Gary


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