the WAFFLE page

October 31, 2012. The end of another month. Sheesh. How come the older ya git, the faster time goes? When you get to my age, you start to measure the past in decades. 1980 seems recent. Even 1970 seems recent. No one was born after 2000. It's all a myth.

Actually, I was thinking about Cody's friends and wondering how much of their daily lives from 12+ years ago they remember. As we get older, our memories become more selective. We remember bits and pieces but certainly not a lot of the daily detail. So you can imagine what it would be like for Wingnut or Mark to sit down and read Green Room. I mean who has a word-for-word record of conversations they had a decade or more ago, particularly from their early teen years? Spooky, yes?

Poor ol' NC Art is confused again: When you find out what a “post tropical storm cyclone” is, fer gawd’s sake let me know! I think I might leave that one to someone who's more familiar with the meteorological arts than I. Reminds me of Cody once boasting that surfers know how to read synoptic charts. However, I did see a report on telly last night about the path of Hurricane Sandy being diverted inland by the presence of a previous tropical storm, and that the original path of the hurricane would have been up the eastern seaboard without making landfall.

From the Beeb: At least 40 people have been killed, millions are without power and transport across the north-eastern US has been severely disrupted as storm Sandy heads north for Canada. Here's some footage of highlights from the storm. And here's some aerial footage of New Jersey.

A Polish teenager who became pregnant after rape should have had unhindered access to an abortion, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. The girl, who was then 14, was forced to have a clandestine abortion after harassment from pro-life groups led to her being turned away from hospitals. The court ordered the Polish state to pay the teenager and her mother 61,000 euros (£49,000) in compensation. Stick that up ya collective clacker, Romney & Co. (Sometimes my literary eloquence surprises me, ya know).

Where would I like to be right now? Tathra would be a good spot. I worked at Bega, the main town, and lived at nearby Tathra. The boss of the radio station visited me a few weeks ago here in Taree. Anyway, a friend and his mates often slept overnight on the wharf on weekends and invited me to join them. The wharf had been condemned back then and was in terrible shape. But that didn't bother us. Just up the road was the historic Tathra pub. I'd had a few too many one night and went outside for a bit of fresh air. There was a German Shepherd sitting on the footpath near the kerb, so I sat down next to him with my feet in the gutter and introduced myself. My breath must've been horrendous cos he lifted his nose and turned away. Hehe. I was shattered. Nobody wanted to know me.

So now I'm thinking what the hell am I doing here when I could be somewhere else? Taree's not a bad town as far as towns go but it's the lifestyle... being stuck in a house with a couple of dodos and caught up in a boring routine. Now, if my house were on wheels, that wouldn't be a problem. You just park the thing somewhere like in that picture. And when that gets a bit tiresome, you park it somewhere else. Yeah? November, December, January... 

Ohio Jace just wrote: Sandy spared Ohio for the most part. The eye was around 100 miles from the homestead causing us to miss the snow. We did not get as much rain as predicted and no flooding. The winds were lighter too with the highest gust at 44 mph instead of the forecast 60. And best of all POWER STAYED ON! Unfortunately, that cannot be said for east of here; billions of $$$ in damages, millions without power or heat, and 40 dead.

Jace also brought me up to speed on the gang (getting into more strife than Speed Gordon as usual) and stuff about motor racing. He reckons they use American voice overs on some of the Aussie stuff so you blokes can understand what's going on. Hehe. Jace is also going through the process of remodeling the homestead. That should be fun. NOT. And he also sent a pic of an Old Bar beach bum. Here is something you might see on the Odyssey. Not sure if the guy is really from Old Bar....

His hair's wet but I'm buggered if I can see a wave out there. And judging from the sun, it's late afternoon. I'm a bit worried about his top tan line, though. Looks like he's in the habit of showing a bit of crack. To quote Cody's oft-used phrase, "I notice these things". To which Mark would reply, "It's the things you notice that worry me." Hehe.

And the $70M Lotto jackpot last night? Ticket F6FB-D716-E181-A7C0 (8 x OZ Lotto Standard) had no winning games. God doesn't like me. Simple as that.

Now, lemme see. If all goes well and I start the Odyssey in February, that's the last month of summer, coming into autumn. I wouldn't mind being in Canberra during autumn because the city has tens of thousands of deciduous trees that turn all kinds of wonderful colors. So I think I'll head south to begin with and check out various places along the east coast from here down to places like Tathra (near the Victorian border), then head inland via Cooma to Canberra for the beginning of autumn (gets too bloody cold towards winter), and then north to Goulburn, the Blue Mountains, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Tamworth, east to Port Macquarie and up the Pacific Hwy towards Queensland and the Top End where I'll spend winter. In spring I'll mosey about Kimberley country in northern Western Australia and make my way south towards Perth as summer approaches, then across the Nullarbor to South Oz and Victoria where I intend to take the Bass Strait ferry across to Tasmania to spend the peak summer period. That's how I figure the first year but it could all change depending on how long I spend at each camp. My main priority is to spend winter up north and peak summer down south, and the moderate seasons like spring and autumn inland or in desert country where the old mining towns are, or places like Uluru and Cumbak Nudjaday. Hehe. I made that last one up. There's no way I'll see everything there is to be seen in any particular area during a short stay, so I expect to be criss-crossing the continent several times over the years, covering old tracks but seeing new things. There's also no way I wanna spend lots of time behind the wheel. Bugger that. I wanna spend most of my time chilling out and checking out the local scene.

So that's it for Wednesday, and that's it for October. Routine time. Bleh. Gary

October 30, 2012. Red Bubble has paid tribute to 65 years of the ubiquitous VW Kombi which is ceasing production in Brazil... and the brilliant advertising by Doyle Dane Bernbach. I remember reading every word of VW ads in the paper on my way to work every day as a teen. I loved those ads, and thought the copy was nothing short of genius. I'm sure their style of prose is still influencing my writing today. I still have a Beetle and a Kombi bus. They're behind me on the mantle shelf along with Cody memorabilia.

Speaking of cars, NC Art wants to know: What’s the Holden set-up? An Aussie manufacturer aligned with General Motors or some such? Guess I could look it up somewheres. Yes, you can.

Like Ohio Jace, Art has problems with his phone line: Hurricane Sandy is not at fault, but I have no telephone service. And ATT repair service is manned by robots. Called them on cell phone and discovered the only things I can say are yes, no, and numbers. This is noon Monday, the day I was told repair would be made, but so far no action. Somehow I hate that robot worse than the fully automated petrol pumps.  I could give up my phone land line except that I have a Lifeline medical emergency service which requires normal phone connection. Modern stuff has advantages but it has more disadvantages than necessary...or even useful. All in the name of profits above human considerations. Fie, fie and a pox on them all!

Hehe. There's nothing quite as satisfying as being old and grumpy. Actually, when you think about outages and modern gizmos that refuse to work as they should, all that's really happening is that we're being deprived of something we didn't have before it was invented. Hehe.

And now for something completely different from BR João: International scientific cooperation is always a good thing. But a team of Australian and Brazilian researchers will change the world with their discovery made in Queensland: Honeybees can discriminate between Monet and Picasso paintings. Well, it’s more than a lot of humans can do, I think, including the BBC speaker that calls abstract a figurative painting of Picasso.

How sensible. If bugs can do certain things better than we can, why not study their secrets and plagiarize them? What are they gonna do? Sue? I figured out a long time ago that we humans don't actually create anything, we discover things that already exist: we rearrange things to suit ourselves: hence the old saying "there's nothing new under the sun". Even white ants are smart enough to install air-conditioning in their high-rise apartment blocks. In fact, they're also smart enough to do it for free.

The average human bean ain't too bright, ya know. If humanity relied on the average human bean to improve its lot, forget it. It takes the occasional odd-ball geek to come along and figure out how to improve something for the benefit of his fellows. Otherwise we'd still be swinging through the trees and eating bananas. I'm often amused by kids who think they're smarter than previous generations. Oh, yeah? Who gave them what they have? It certainly wasn't their own generation. You don't have kids working for fashion houses or computer game companies or skateboard manufacturers. Wise up, kids.. you're just a bunch of sheep with money to spend.

There was an interesting story on telly last night about Malcolm Brown, a 65 y/o journalist who had worked for years at The Sydney Morning Herald which, like so many other newspapers, is suffering the effects of competition from the digital revolution - audiences getting their news and information from the internet. He was a meticulous journalist with expert shorthand, and never let his personal bias get in the way of reporting a story accurately and without favor. He had covered some of the world's biggest stories over 4 decades. But his time had come at the newspaper along with 1500 other employees, many much younger. He chose to retire rather than be sacked, but he was sad anyway because he wanted to remain at the job he loved for many years yet. At his office sendoff, his colleagues said very complimentary things about him, and thanked him for his wonderful contribution to the newspaper over a long career. But as he said later, "In a month I'll be Malcolm Who? There's nothing more ex than an ex-employee." How true, how true, how true!

Malcolm may be unemployed but he's not the type to sit around and do nothing. He plans to walk the 500 kilometers to Dubbo in western NSW and write the stories of those who went before him; the explorers and pioneers who opened up the vast western plains on the other side of the Blue Mountains. What a grand plan - to walk in the shoes of those about whom he writes. That's about as meticulous as you can get. By the way, the title of the story about Malcolm Brown was 'A Man of his Word'.

Dammit, I just flipped a pancake and it folded in half in mid air and I couldn't unfold it cos it stuck together! I gotta work on this flipping business a bit more. Roite, the next one is more betterer... but it looks like a crumpet with lots of little holes. Hehe. Dozen madder. As soon as it cools a bit, I'll fill it with boiled egg mashed with mayonaise. Hmmm, not bad... but a bit leathery. Roite, tellya what I'm gonna do... add a bit more water to the pancake mix to thin it, and make something more like a crepe. The second pancake is in the bin with the first (after scraping off the egg). Bugger the water line on the bottle. Okay, this one's better... but still not crepe-y enough. Tastes okay tho, and not so chewy. The fourth one will be better cos I added a bit more water to the mix but that can wait for another day. What I really should do is make my own crepe mix. Pancake mix is a bit sweet.

From the Beeb: New York is severely hit by flooding as cyclone Sandy makes landfall, bringing torrential rain, high winds and storm surges. I'm sure you've seen the coverage on telly. So they're calling it a cyclone now? Or is that a Beebie Boo Boo?

International observers say Ukraine's election was a backward step for democracy, marred by "the abuse of power and the excessive role of money". I wonder what Kostik and Co think about all this? I haven't heard from those guys in years.

Assailants force their way into local radio studios in southern Bolivia and pour gasoline over the presenter, setting him alight. People like that can't be human, surely.

Poland's Catholic Church has warned that modern Halloween rituals risk promoting the occult. In a statement on its website, the Church said that celebrating Halloween could contradict Church teachings and Christianity. One archbishop said the 31 October celebrations were promoting paganism to young people. But there's nothing wrong with devils, everlasting fire and brimstone, Armageddon, winged aliens playing trumpets in the sky and a near-naked bloke nailed to a cross with a crown of thorns around his head.

Here in Oz yesterday, a burst water main sent a water spout 80 meters (250') into the air, quite a spectacular sight for sleepy suburbia.

Another 10 pledges ($50) were added to the Donations page today, for which I'm grateful. Each dollar gets me closer to my goal. In fact, my patience is beginning to run a bit thin. I've been waiting far too long already! Not only that, there's nothing to keep me here in Taree... or won't be once the choppers are fixed.

So once again it's time to call it a day and attend to my whatevers. Thank god for the ABC and a bit of decent telly. And the $70M Lotto draw tonight? Hehe. I'm not holding my breath. Gary

October 29, 2012. Back in the late '80s I camped at a place on the south coast of NSW called Green Patch. I saw a pic of it this morning on Red Bubble. What a delightful spot. It's at Jervis Bay, a national park owned by the Australian Navy, annexed from NSW as part of the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra).

And now, let's do a time warp back to the year of the Sputnik and '57 Chevy convertibles:

Yep, Elvis, Beach Boys, Sputniks and fins. Holden released a model based on that design in 1960-62 which was a bit old fashioned by then, but still popular. Anyway, they were the days, my friend, and we thought they would never end...

Just received an email reminder from Lotto. Should I or shouldn't I?

Hehe. Oh well... It's probably a bit more than I need for the Odyssey but I could always spend what's left over on er... something or other. Roite, there goes $10 of my hard earned on 8 tickets. Wish me luck. Bugger the 70M, just a few grand will be fine.

Honestly, what would a bloke do with $70M? Suddenly I'd be faced with all kinds of complex and difficult decisions. Do I need that? Friends would instantly appear outta the woodwork... most I didn't even know existed. I'd be swamped with unsolicited advice from investment companies. Not to mention crooks. I don't need that. Give me the simple life. On the other hand... nah, let's not go there. Hehe.

Not everyone is pro-gambling. The French site of the Euromillions lottery is hacked, with a passage from the Koran discouraging gambling posted on its homepage. Yeppers, all that money wasted on gambling could be put to better use buying bombs and grenade launchers.

Nonetheless, money is a pretty handy concept. I mean it beats the hell outta taking 3 goats and a cow to the supermarket. In fact, these days you don't even need to carry it around. You just need a bunch of numbers in a bank account and a plastic card.

Speaking of money, $70M is a pittance compared to the money Romney and Obama are spending on the Presidential Election Campaign.

From the Beeb: New York public transport is to be suspended and thousands evacuated as preparations are stepped up for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on Monday. Serious stuff indeed. Serious enough for Obama to put his Ohio campaign on hold while he attends to the threat of hurricane damage.

After winning his sixth consecutive MotoGP Australian Grand Prix, Casey Stoner has turned his back on a $15 million offer to race on in 2013. I'm sure Ohio Jace and the gang were glued to the telly yesterday for the big race. Stoner plans to retire from MotoGP in two weeks but there's speculation he might be lured into racing V8 supercars. He certainly is a wolf in sheep's clothing, that bloke. To look at him you wouldn't think he has what it takes to be a tough competitor. He busted an ankle in a race a while ago, then took a tumble at practice the other day, but nonetheless went on to take out his 6th successive win at Phillip Island.

Cody must be pulling strings up there. Just got a call from my ISP about the problem I was having with codysworld, which interrupted my smoothie. Not only that, I didn't have my bloody teeth in. Obviously, Cody is still up to his scallywag tricks. BUT, seems the hosting plan is on an old plan so the guy has upgraded codysworld to a new plan which is 500MB (instead of the current 100), AND is about $7/mth cheaper. There ya go. So I forgave the bloke for interrupting my smoothie and phoning when I was without my teeth, and he wished me a nice day. The new plan will be effective Nov. 1.

Ohio Jace must be psychic. He just sent me a Halloween e-card. It's a spooky one with ghosts and crows and all kinds of scary things - frightened the bloody daylights outta me. I voted early (today) now if I could only get rid of the constant political garbage filling the airways (telly). The postal box is overflowing too and the phone rings off the hook. At least it will be over in eight days and then the political will be replaced with Xmas ads.

I can't remember when I last saw a manned gas station (apart from yonks ago) so this came as a surprise: We have our first automated petrol station in town. No attendants whatsoever. Credit card only of course. Not sure who changes the prices. They vary on a daily basis, sometimes changing two times in the same day. OIC, totally automated... no attendant. We still have those with at least one.. a person to process payments. Not sure about Sydney tho. I'm terrified of ticket machines at railway stations... I always go to the booth and get mine from a human being. In Sydney, I get the day pass (pensioner's discount - $2.50) which allows unlimited travel on all city trains, buses, trams, monorail and ferries.

Jace says he has trouble keeping up with Waffle and other things because of a bad internet connection (and cable TV). With the hurricane on the way he expects to be without power for some days. Otherwise, things are cool with the Ohio gang. Thanks for the card, Jace... I really enjoyed it.

Speaking of Frankenstorm, I watched a movie review show last night and saw clips of Frankenweenie which received scores of 4 and 4.5 out of 5 from the show's two hosts, one of whom "can't stand animated movies" with Frankenweenie the exception. Yep, looks like a hoot and one I'd enjoy. I rather like animated movies cos they don't pretend to be anything other than what they are... entertainment. I also enjoy the caricatures of players which remind me of Gary Larson's depictions of "average" people hehe.

I've mentioned this before but we don't traditionally celebrate Halloween in Oz. However, that seems to be changing. There's a section of the local supermarket dedicated to Halloweenie stuff like masks and skulls and pumpkins. Cody used to have Halloween parties in Safrica back in the late '90s and early 2000s. I suppose Aussie retailers have figured they can make a buck out it, and I'm sure American movies with a Halloween theme have influenced the younger generation in countries like Oz. I have to say though, I don't like the idea of kids knocking on doors expecting money.

Well, shortly I'll be jumping in the ute to whizz out to the dental prosthetic's rooms for a fitting or whatever he has in mind . He took the molds last time. So I'll upload this Waffle when I get back.

Back! He's a million miles an hour, that bloke. So I told him so... "It wouldn't take you long to get around a golf course." Then he told me the story of how he played 9 holes of golf in 37 minutes when he was in his mid 20s ("when I was fit... very fit"). He's probably late '40s now. I can also tell you that dental prosthetists who moonlight as nightclub singers (and also run an entertainment agency) are not short of a quid. He drives a Mercedes. My new clippers - not too white - will be ready for pick up Friday 9, the day before the full extraction. He wanted me to pay on the spot but that's impossible even with the Medicare rebate, so he said "we'll work something out". He also suggested that having 20+ teeth extracted will be done with general anaethsetic, not local. I certainly hope so! It doesn't sound like a whole lotta fun. So there ya go. So far, so good... ish. Gary

October 28, 2012. Boing, boing, boing...

Steve W is worried about the camper being 10' tall. I had a ute for towing a 2 tonne boat around Oz and had air bags - they certainly helped with height alignment but do nothing for handling and cornering. Sway bars are very important for heavy loads. The weight on my tow ball from the 2 tonne boat, because of the balance of the trailer, was 120 kgs which is not great. Without any counter balance of the wheels of a trailer, the weight over your rear axle will be much greater. This is what concerns me. 

Here's what TX Greg had to say about it: Well you could tell peeps your new home is in a penthouse suite, hahahaha

I read a couple of forums last night on the web and most owners of slide ons/ins recommend one or the other, or preferably both air bags and an anti sway bar. Most of the forums were American where they drive bigger trucks carrying bigger campers, 2000 to 3000 pounds dry weight (not including the wife, one bloke wrote hehe). You can add 500 to 1000 pounds once the camper is fully loaded. Mine is about 700 kilos (about 1500 pounds) which would be about 2000 loaded. One bloke said the combination of his truck and camper was 12' tall! He likened it to a tractor/trailer combo. Sway is the common problem in high winds or dips in the road. They say air bags and sway bars are essential... particularly sway bars. As to high winds, this kid ain't driving in those, thank you very much. 

The Freeway was made to fit the early-mid 70's Ford Falcon tub-back utes. The floor box is narrow enough to slide between the wheel arches of the tray, which sits lower to the ground than a tray-back. Mine has had storage boxes fitted to either side of the floor box, and then another full-width storage box fitted below that which raises the height of the total unit about 12". Add another 12" being the difference between a tub-back and a tray-back, and you have a combo that's about 2' higher than the original design. However, there are heaps of campers designed to fit tray-backs these days that are at least 6' tall to allow interior head room. So mine's only a foot taller... and there's not much weight up top anyway. Just gotta make a note of low overhead bridge heights as I approach them.

My idiot ex-biz partner was so desperate to get me to Canberra about 20 years ago (just after I sold my little house in Glebe), he borrowed a friend's mini truck - a flat tray with a tall box on top - to cart my belongings to his house in Canberra. He loaded all my gear, including my wine collection which weighed a ton, without giving much thought to proper weight distribution. As a result, the loaded truck was dangerously top heavy. I watched it sway as it left my drive in Sydney and wondered if it would ever make it to his place. It did, but only just. He later told me harrowing tales of how hairy the trip was. But, like I said, he was desperate to get me to Canberra. I departed a few days later in my Kombi with my remaining possessions crammed to the rafters.

NC Art wrote: Yep, be careful with your new China Clippers. It’s comical but embarrassing to leave them in the burger sandwich after taking a big bite. This morning my little coterie did our civic duty and voted for a bunch of saints and sinners. We opted to vote early, and used my handicapped car sign to do the deed curbside. No lines, no getting wet and such inconveniences. We feel SO damned virtuous. That Liberace movie was news to me. I do remember his TV concerts and his flamboyant stage settings.

Yep, he drove a Rolls on stage one time, which is a stunt the movie intends to recreate. Here's a clip of Liberace doing his thing.

Art also sent this pic of a highly imaginative design for a downspout:

TX Greg sent this one:

I just tried drawing a circle with the index finger of my left hand while drawing a square with the index finger of my right. That ain't easy either. I saw a thing on telly the other night about kids and multi tasking. Computer generation kids can do their homework, follow chat on twitter and facebook, watch Youtube and listen to music all at the same time. No way I can do that, Jose. I can't even listen to music when I write.

BR João wrote: Next weekend I’ll go to Rio de Janeiro to visit my brother and his wife. Like you she had a problem of cancer in her mouth. Due to an early diagnostics the problem is now surpassed. Good news for me. But what I want to say is another thing. Like me, they are low middle class. She could never afford the cost of surgery, hospitalization and complex exams. Like you she could do all this things in a public hospital without pay a cent. And here’s the point: how could someone be against public medicare unless they’re real rich? What produced the present economic crisis in the world was the end of many economic regulations and consequent dishonest operations of banks, not welfare state. I hope American people think of this when they vote next month and don’t give up their right to unrestricted medicare. It’s a right, not a privilege, and a state duty. 

Yes, I'm fortunate to live in a country where welfare has a high priority. This is an important difference between the law of the jungle and human civilization. Humans have evolved empathy for their own kind. At least, some of us have. I guess there will always be those whose attitude is 'I'm alright, Jack, bugger you'. I heard a story on radio recently about the way Aussie diggers captured by the Japanese during the fall of Singapore were treated when forced to work on the Burma Railway. They were given meager rations, barely enough to keep them alive. As a consequence, many died of disease and/or malnutrition. It would have made more sense if the Japanese had fed their workforce properly. Dead men can't work. But the Japanese attitude at the time was that soldiers who surrendered rather than commit harakiri (the honorable thing to do to avoid capture) didn't deserve to be treated with even a modicum of respect. Fools.

The key to any nation's prosperity is twofold: free education and free health care.

From the Beeb: The US economy grew more than expected in the three months to September, official figures showed. The world's largest economy expanded at an annualised rate of 2% in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said. How will Romney reconcile that with God's will? That's the funny thing about prayers. If God answers them, you thank him. If he doesn't, you thank him anyway cos he knows best. Meanwhile,  what is Romney saying? He's saying the economic growth is welcome "but it's not enough". In other words, nothing Obama could pull outta the hat is good enough.

Capital Hill is a 15 minute "news" program on weeknight telly at 5:30pm where an interviewer talks to two guests representing each side of politics in Oz. It's pointless watching it cos the pollies spend the entire 15 minutes trashing each other's policies and ignoring the interviewer's questions.

Oh yes, before I fergit, I saw a kid at the supermarket yesterday wearing a shirt. Printed on the front was 'Just Another Stupid T-shirt'. Hehe.

And now, dear Breth, who is more likely to watch the American sit-com Modern Family? Democrats or Republicans? Find out here. Can't say I'm a fan of sit-coms apart from very few exceptions. The Honeymooners comes to mind, and Yes Minister. Otherwise they're just half-hours of endless corny one-liners.

Does caramel go well with banana? I'm glad you asked that question because I happen to be drinking a smoothie at the mo with precisely those two flavors. Mmmmmmmm! With milk and plain yoghurt. No malt this time cos I wanted to see how the banana and caramel would work. It's even got a frothy top which is giving me a milky moustache. Mmmmm, that's veeeery good! Actually, I went to the supermarket yesterday and checked out the fresh fruit section to see if there was anything besides bananas and strawberries that might work in smoothies. Nah, not really. Some things would work quite well as tropical fruit drinks without milk... such as kiwi fruit, rock melon, blueberries, orange, apple but there's all that boring peeling business that I can't be bothered with. I know caramel is not exactly bursting with vitamins and minerals BUT... I like it. Hmmm... silly me forgot to add a pinch of cinammon. That would have worked well. Banana, milk, plain yoghurt, caramel and cinammon. There ya go.

I wonder how maple syrup would go. Or golden syrup. They've been in the pantry for ages. There's vanilla essence as well. Shredded coconut maybe? I wonder how shredded coconut and chocolate would work together in a smoothie. Maybe not. But coconut milk instead of ordinary milk might. Hehe. Instant coffee is another one I'd like to try in a smoothie... kinda like an iced coffee with a pinch of nutmeg. Hot coffee is different. I don't drink instant. Bleh. I use ground coffee in a plunger.

And that's it for G's Culinary Corner. In fact, that's it for the weekend. Mondee tomorrow and my second appointment with the prosthetist. I suppose it'll be a fitting even though my gums aren't nude yet. One of the advantages of living in a country town is that everything's "just up the road". Gary

October 27, 2012. I think I'm coming to terms with having all my teeth extracted. It's a pity Nancy was determined to save them, otherwise it would all be over by now and I'd have a mouthful of shiny new sparklers. One good thing is that I'll never have to worry about toothache or dental work again for the rest of my life. And with a bit of luck, I'll be able to speak properly again and enjoy an occasional pizza! Just so long as I remember to place my hand over my mouth when I cough. Red and white missiles flying through the air at McDonalds is not exactly my idea of decorum.

I've also been thinking about 2WD versus 4WD in the new ute. 4WD would be handy I guess, but 2WD will take me to 90% of places I wanna go. 2WD flat tray utes are also more plentiful in the used vehicle marketplace and cheaper. Sooooo... I can always upgrade at a later date when I've had the chance to save a bit more. Getting started is the numero uno priority.

Well, a new movie to be released next year about the life of Liberace will star Michael Douglas as the flamboyant pianist and Matt Damon as his lover. I hope they don't bugger up a great story. Liberace took himself very seriously as a young concert pianist but was shattered by critics who berated his flamboyance and mannerisms rather than focus on his considerable musical talent. So he thought if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. As a result (to use his own words) he laughed all the way to the bank. He was one of the greatest entertainers of all time, and I hope the movie does him justice.

From the Beeb: Mitt Romney promises "real change" against President Obama's "status quo", in a speech following better-than-expected US economic figures. I hope Obama is smart enough to capitalize on Romney's promise of "change"... something like changing back to the GWB era.

Meanwhile, people in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and a coastal county in North Carolina have other things to worry about as fears grow that Hurricane Sandy could merge with a winter storm to create what has been dubbed "Frankenstorm". The US Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia was reportedly sending a whole fleet of ships out to sea to avoid the storm.

Now here are some piccies worth looking at... a collection of Hollywood Unseen publicity photos taken during the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

A very quiet Satdee, ladies and genitals, especially since my Waffle correspondents have gone on strike. Not much on the Beeb as well. It'll probably be a different story on the Odyssey, with lots of things happening every day. Actually, I spent a while checking out utes today and discovered that the Ford Courier is actually a Mazda Bravo. Its 2.6 liter 4-banger produces 95kW which is just under 130 horses... not exactly huge but probably adequate. That's about 30 horses more than Bluey had. Anyway, with the kinda budget I have, I can't afford to be picky. Adequate is better than  nuthin'.

The thing that worries me is that once the camper sits on the tray, it will be 10 feet tall (a tad over 3 meters). Sheesh! Gary

October 26, 2012. Well, the dental prosthetist was not the kinda bloke I expected. Open neck shirt, shorts, long socks and running shoes. Lively personality, outgoing. Turns out he moonlights as a club singer. AND he remembers me from yonks ago when I worked for ABC radio up here on the north coast. I did the bite/squishy thing and he told me there was no way I was gonna keep any of my teeth. The radiation kills the roots (I think it's the roots) which means even if they stay in for a time, eventually they'll come loose and fall out. Soooooo, it's Goodnight Irene. Now lemme see, I'm missing 4 upper front, and 4 molars. That's 8. Adults have a total of 32, so that means 24 teeth have gotta go. Sheesh. I'm not sure I wanna think about THAT.

Yep, I thought there was something different about that bloke when I walked into his waiting room. It was after 5 so he was attending to customers at the front desk. He was all jolly and bright with a ready smile. And there was an empty Bose box in the corner... some kind of speaker stand. When it was all over, we were back at the reception desk while he made another appointment for me (next Monday). Silly me asked what kinda songs he sang on stage. Hehe. So I was there another 15 minutes listening to him deliver a sermon on good/bad music and the industry's woes.

From the Beeb: A New York City policeman has been arrested for an alleged plot to kidnap women, rape and torture them and then cook and eat their body parts. Gilberto Valle is being held in custody without bail on charges that include kidnapping conspiracy and unauthorised use of law enforcement databases. No women were hurt, but the 28-year-old used police records to gather data on potential victims, officials alleged. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman said the charges against the officer were "profoundly disturbing". There's an understatement if ever there was one. 

There was a program on telly last night about a medical breakthrough in N. Carolina where medical researchers were able to grow a bladder from a man's tissue sample and transplant it back into him to replace his failed one. They can do the same thing with other organs as well, although complex organs such as kidneys require a lot more work. How sensible. Interchangeable bits. It had to come, right? It just makes so much sense.

Roite. That's the X-ray outta the way! I was sitting with a couple of old blokes in the waiting room chatting away, and one of them announced that Ford in America had closed its operation. What? I knew that a Ford factory that makes vans in the UK was going to close but the US? I questioned him but he was adamant. Silly boi. See how people can stuff up the facts after hearing a rumor or part of a story? Anyway, he's just splurged on a new Nissan something or other... top of the range with all the latest technology and... and... leather seats. Funny innit, it's hard to beat good old-fashioned cow hide no matter what kind of space-age materials technology comes up with.

And speaking of space-age, the Swiss are doing something about cleaning up space junk. More than half a century of sending objects into space has left the Earth surrounded by junk. Bits of long-dead satellites, spent rocket stages and other debris orbit the planet at almost 18,000 mph, each chunk a potential hazard to working satellites or astronauts. The Swiss have a plan, however. Scientists at the Swiss space centre at EPFL, the federal institute for technology in Lausanne, want to send a "janitor satellite" into orbit, to sweep up debris and permanently remove it from orbit.

Good thinking, 99. It's not the Monster from Mars we have to worry about, it's the Monster from Earth.

Question: after having all my bities and masticators removed on the 10th (looks like the 3rd's not gonna happen) will I be in a fit state to travel by train to Sydney to see the doc on the 12th? According to the dental clinic, yes. According to Lindsay the drama queen, I'll be in agony. I prefer the clinic's version. Besides, I don't wanna move my Sydney appointment because the Pacific Jewel will be in town, and I'm desperate to get some shots of that thing.

I'll be taking that exact same shot from Circular Quay railway station before I wander around the promenade, getting different angles... some from the right of the pic near the Opera House with the city skyline to the left of the ship, some from the left of the pic looking directly at the bow, and some from on board a ferry. She's a big girl, yes? Apparently these modern ships don't need tug boat assistance to dock. They use various side, forward and reverse thrusters to maneuver the thing into perfect position. Then they use velcro strips to attach it to the wharf. Hehe. And there's no big wood and brass helm anymore, just a little joystick. Bloody marvelous.

See what monkeys can do with a bit of evolution thrown in?

Oregon Richie commented on the pic of Coober Pedy I posted the other day. He called it an "ancient old Aussie town". It's literally out in the middle of nowhere and if it weren't for the opals, there'd be nothing there except lizards and scrub. I'm really looking forward to visiting those icons of Oz mining history - Coober Pedy, Lightning Ridge, Kalgoorlie, Sofala, Hill End plus the bigger cities like Broken Hill and Mt Isa. When I think about all there is to see in Oz, I wonder how the hell I'll manage it. Hehe. Oh well... just press on regardless.

Mind you, there are lots of places in Oz I won't spend much time, if any. Most of city suburbia, for example. BORING! I'll be fairly selective about places I choose to do a photo/vid story on... those with a bit of history and/or character. However, there are some "boring" things I'd like to include, like my old school, the house I was raised in, radio stations I worked at, and pubs I disgraced myself in hehe (no shortage of those). Otherwise, it's adventure 1st, everything else 2nd.

Aaaaaanywaaaaaaaay, it's time for a wrap. I'm kinda tempted to fry up a batch of chippies tonight. Hmmm. Gary

October 25, 2012. Well, just paid the quarterly power bill which ripped the fork outta my fiscal nightie. At least the next one is 3 months away. Also, the cash advance on my pension used to bolster what I needed to buy the camper is now paid off. AND NO MORE CAMERAS! Actually, I'm elegible now to get another advance on the pension so that's another grand towards the new ute when the time comes. Basically, there are 3 more things I need before cast off:

1. Flat tray ute
2. Gas bottle and fittings checked/renewed
3. Deep cycle battery, 1000w inverter (at least) and electrical wiring checked

I'd like a second battery and solar panel but that can wait.

Lindsay just spoke to Cherie's next door neighbor Ken who said she'd been dead for 5 days before she was found on Tuesday. A fumigator was there yesterday and will be back again today. Charming. Ya know, I often joke about owyagoin but that was Cherie's regular greeting... with a strong nasal twang more like air-yagoin (minus the 'r' sound).

Just when you think everything's rosy something comes along to upset the applecart. I just checked Codysworld and discovered disk space usage has more than doubled. ??? The site just sits there. Nothing's been added for years. It appears that certain files are duplicated for some reason that's beyond me. The techie tried to explain it but I still didn't understand. Apparently occasional maintenance is required to delete stuff that pops up outta the blue for god knows what reason. I wouldn't have a clue where to start so I've asked TX Greg to check it out.

Greg wrote. Seems like my ISP has stuffed up and accidentally more than halved the disk space I pay for, which explains the sudden overuse. Bloody hell. All that waiting time on the phone and buggerizing around has wasted a couple of hours. After reading Greg's mail, I tried phoning a second time but gave up after waiting time went from 8 minutes down to one minute and then up again to 8 minutes. Bugger it. So I wrote instead.

Not much happening at the Beeb except that Obama will make history by being the first president to vote early. What if he votes for himself and then changes his mind before November 6? Seems that "Romnesia", "horses and bayonets", and other Obamaisms are making the rounds of social media, which may play a role for the first time in an election. I don't think Romney has said anything funny yet. Has he?

Shortly, I'll be off to the dental prosthetist to bite on a big squishy thing hehe. Kinda like getting your fingerprints taken except it isn't. So that'll make this the shortest Waffle since I was crook in hospital. They were bad, bad days. Sometimes I could only manage a few sentences. Anyway, let's see what tomorrow brings. Gary

October 24, 2012. More thoughts from NC Art about racial politics: We true blood Americans should be a mite keerfle about dissing other “races.” Those who’ve been here long enough just may have a bit of native American and/or African genes. A quadroon could often pass for white, and an octoroon has easy passage. How could I be sure that none of my ancestors scattered a few yard children about the landscape in 250 years of sojourning in the New World? Hmmn.
    Hispanic and Latino are often used interchangeably, but most of our southern native friends do speak Spanish and the term Hispanic should be reserved for those whose native language was a product of Spain. Relative few Latinos can claim that origin. 
    That world preference for Obama poll is eye opening for undecided  U.S. voters—or should be! But any care for the good opinion of mankind is just foreign to our lofty opinion of ourselves. That’s a shame, but maybe some day a shred of realistic humility will make an intrude on our jingoist arrogance. We haven’t been called the Ugly American for no reason.

The first time I saw the term ethno-centric used to describe Americans was when an email friend back in the late '90s used it to describe his fellow countrymen. He was a young college student mad about Harleys and planning to travel the world to broaden his horizons. Since then, Oregon Richie has often referred to his countrymen as obsessed with their own importance hehe. Richie has traveled to many parts of the world and takes a keen interest in world history. He's a huge fan of Winston Churchill. And now Art is referring to the 'Ugly American'. Well, I don't think Americans have a monopoly on ethno-centricity. The Germans and Japanese weren't exactly too friendly towards the rest of the world back in the '30 and '40s. The Brits, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and French spent a lot of their time colonizing various parts of the planet during recent centuries. The Romans were pretty busy in that department too, as well as the Vikings. And so it goes. 

Aussies had the opposite problem. Until fairly recently, we were so geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world, we developed the 'cultural cringe' - a deep-seated inferiority complex. Owyagoinmatenoworries. When Frank Sinatra toured here in the '50s he performed at the Sydney Stadium; an overgrown tin shed. So did many other international stars including Johnny Ray, The Beatles and The Stones. It wasn't till the late '60s that we had a  proper Opera House, followed by the Sydney Enterainment Center in the '70s. Then the big one came in 2000... the Sydney Olympics staged at Olympic Park, Homebush Bay... several acres of industrial wasteland and polluted swamp converted into a showpiece as good as anything in the world, and probably better than most. I fully expected the opening ceremony to be a joke - Slim Dusty singing A Pub With No Beer, and a bunch of kangaroos hopping about the central arena. Instead, it was an extravaganza the likes of which I could never have anticipated. It stunned Australia and it stunned the world. Down Under had finally come of age, and there wasn't a single Aussie whose heart wasn't filled with pride. What a night that was! Even now it brings a tear to my eye. Several, in fact.

Meanwhile, BR João writes: All I wanted to say is that we can’t talk about votes of Blacks, Whites and Latinos; remember elementary school: you can’t add bananas to oranges. And that Latin culture is common to all Western countries. But let’s talk about something much more interesting. I watched a documentary on television about Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory. It’s an incredible beautiful place, full of different kinds of birds and other animals. I hope you can go there in the Odyssey though I think it’s a place more suitable for a boat than for a camper. Another of my favorite places is Alice Springs, where some people live literally underground in old mines not for need but for option. Their “houses” have everything a house usually has and a temperature much more agreeable than outside. Wow, what young boy (or girl) didn’t dream of living in a cave? I think I’m more anxious about the beginning of AO than you – he, he, he.

You're thinking of Coober Pedy in South Oz, João. It's an opal mining town famous for its underground dwellings as well as its opals.

Alice Springs (The Alice) is further north, in the geographical heart of Oz, not far from Uluru. And yes, I plan to visit all those places including Kakadu where the jabiru flies. Not too far off the beaten track, though.

Did you hear about the famous newspaper reporter who's tired of the lack of hard news these days, giving way to too many "soft" entertainent stories? Yes, folks, star reporter at the Daily Planet Clark Kent has had enough. Heaven knows what Lois will have to say about this.

Back from a chat with Averil and giving her stuff I couldn't eat... breakfast cereal, sultanas, muesli bars. She told me one of our neighbors died the other day. Cherie. Took a while for anyone to notice so she was pretty ripe apparently when the landlord arrived with the cops yesterday. I've known her for over 10 years and she was forever telling me she only had weeks or months to live. She was a hypochondriac with just about every disease known to medical science. I suspect it was emphysema that finally did her in. I'd often see her resting after walking a short distance. So that's another one down. 

Averil certainly loves to hold the floor when she's got some news. Hehe. I thought she was never gonna stop! She has a habit of going off on tangents, which is infuriating. She spent as much time telling me about Cherie's new tomato plot and garden stakes as she did about Cherie's demise! I think Cherie was in her early 60s, reasonably well preserved... buxom blonde who always wore her hair in a pony tail, and black tights down to just below her knees. She fancied herself as a good sort. Her IQ was somewhere between zero and 1.

Just phoned Nancy my dentist. She's had advice from 4 specialists about the tooth with exposed bone and they all say the same thing, the problem will get worse as the radiation wears off. They all recommend a total extraction. The bloody lot. So, at least I succeeded in getting a bit of action happening. I've been sitting here for weeks wondering what the hell's going on. It's all been a bit of a mess. The radiation doc in Port Macquarie led me to believe I would lose all my teeth. Then Nancy said they could be saved and I've had work done on those I still have. Now we're back to square one. They've pulled a few strings so I have an appointment with a dental technician tomorrow at 5pm for dentures. I also need an X-ray done at the local hospital. Then I have an appointment with Nancy on Saturday November 3. She's asked a specialist Liam to be there as well and between them they'll work out if I need a full extraction or partial. He will perform the extractions. It's not Nancy's field of expertise. All I really care about is being able to eat pizza again!

The big worry has been the federal government's decision to end the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme on December 1, after which time the work can't be claimed on Medicare. I could never afford to pay for all this stuff! It would cost thousands! So there ya go... I've got Nancy in a flap trying to organize everything to happen before December 1. Even my appointment on November 3 has been brought forward from November 10, which means they've had to shuffle a few patients around. Now, imagine if I hadn't made that phone call...

So guess who's gonna be a gummy old geezer for a while? Gummy Gary. At least it'll be over, and out of the way of all Odyssey considerations.

So what's on the menu tonight? Fish, I reckon. Out of a box. Sometimes I dunno how I stand the excitement. Gary

October 23, 2012. NC Art reckons João is a nitpicker: Joao is over fond of nitpicking and splitting hairs. His Portuguese rendered into English is amusing however. We Americanos kinda know that Latinos include Spanish speaking immigrants from several nations and tribes from south of the border, mostly Mexican, but also several spots in Central and South America. He mentions two groups in Mexico, but skips over the Inca, Olmec, Toltec, etc. And we make a fuss, not a fuzz over inconsequentials. So sue Los Estados Unidos del Norte, or Norteamricanos. Mejicos call themselves Sudamericanos, citizens of Los Estados Unidos del Sur. We call them Mexicans; they prefer a softer sounding Meshica pronunciation. So the king’s English is a frigging mess, whoever the kind is.
    And Spanish is the common language there, but there are still old tongues, and extremely varied. Some villages in southern and central Mexico do not speak or understand the lingo of another village 20 miles away. And Joao’s spelling gives yet another variation on that Latium name Amerigo Vespucci. But that Italian voyager gets various lettering also. Christopher Columbus is also Cristof Colombo and Christoph Colombo. Genoans never agreed just who the hell this guy was who was bankrolled by Spanish Queen Isabella to go to India and steal spices, beautifully dyed cloth and anything else lying about. He thought an island population he found were Indians and never set foot on the North American part of a pretty big continent.
    Ain’t history a blast?

There ya go, João spells fuss fuzz and we spell Brasil Brazil. TX Greg has a different take on the matter: Perhaps this will help you and João...

And yes sad, but the fuss is that this still a very race driven country hence all the references in voting or even local politics, etc. I'm confused to João's comment on Native America Indians being extinguished. Smaller in numbers yes, some still living on reservations, but not extinct.

I think João's use of 'almost extinguished' means severely curtailed rather than obliterated. Australian Aborigines suffered a similar fate at the hands of British colonialists. It was worse in Tasmania where the entire population of Tasmanian Aborigines was 'extinguished'. It was quite legal for British settlers to dispose of Aborigines with a rifle.

When I was little my mom told me I was "one drop Cherokee Indian". A few months later I fell off my bike and cut my leg. I looked up and asked my mom " Did I lose my one drop Cherokee???" hehe. Made me think of this old song..........

In my case, I think I'm one drop Irish and several bottles of Guinness.

Anyway, kiddies, I won't have any of this bullying in Waffle Class. If you wanna bash the crap out of each other, do it in the playground. That's what playgrounds are for. Meanwhile, I read where the first Native Americans were actually immigrants from China.

Immigrants at Central Station, 1951

It was sad to hear
The train's whistle this morning
At the railway station.
All night it had rained.
The air was crowded
With a dampness that slowly
Sank into our thoughts -
But we ate it all:
The silence, the cold, the benevolence
Of empty streets.

Time waited anxiously with us
Behind upturned collars
And space hemmed us
Against each other
Like cattle bought for slaughter.

Families stood
With blankets and packed cases -
Keeping children by their sides,
Watching pigeons
That watched them.

But it was sad to hear
The train's whistle so suddenly -
To the right of our shoulders
Like a word of command.
The signal at the platform's end
Turned red and dropped
Like a guillotine -
Cutting us off from the space of eyesight

While time ran ahead
Along glistening tracks of steel.

-Peter Skrzynecki

Peter is referring to Central Station in Sydney, Oz.

That Vincents sign was everywhere... billboards, enameled signage, radio, TV, newspapers, magazines. "Take Vincents with confidence for quick, three-way relief" (from headache/toothache, colds, fever, etc). APC stood for asirin, phenacetin and caffein, which was a very potent mix, not to mention dangerous. It was also extremely addictive and caused kidney damage in many users as well as death. Once the link was established, APC as a compound was banned. I was at the stage where I couldn't start the day without a Vincents. The competition was Bex, same thing but cheaper. It inspired a hit stage play based on the common phrase, "A Bex, a Cuppa Tea, and A Good Lie Down."

The other day it was 37C. Today it's flat out getting to 20. And it's windy. So what's the story? Who knows.

The camper is now beginning to feel more like a little house than a plaything. I had a bit of a poke around again, lifting cushions and inspecting storage boxes, opening drawers and cupboards. There's tons of space... nothing wasted. The only thing missing is a bathroom... that'll be in the pop-up tent outside (unless the camp ground has its own facilities). I expect most of my daylight hours (and warm evenings) will be spent outdoors under the awning or wandering about the place. One of the external storage boxes has power points. All very civilized. You can get 1000, 2000, 5000 watt 12V inverters so with a couple of solar panels and a couple of deep cycle batteries, you can run just about anything within reason. 

So, the more I think about it, the more comfortable I am with the idea of "downsizing" my current living space and not having a permanent address. Actually, I will have a permanent address... this one. Getting stuff delivered from buying online might be a bit tricky unless I sweet-talk the local post office or general store or whatever. I do all my banking, bill-paying, etc online so that won't change. I have a mobile phone instead of a fixed line so that's not a prob. Any more issues? I don't think so. Well, for some things, like my driver's license and car registration, I'll need a permanent mailing address. They don't do email. 

By now you'll have seen the final Romney/Obama debate. It was a draw from what I gather, and not expected to affect swinging voters either way. Here's the Beeb's Mark Mardell's analysis.

So now the two rivals will be back on the campaign trail for the final two weeks of trying to convince the swingers to vote for them. At the mo, the polls have the two men neck and neck.  American polls, that is. Here's what the rest of the world thinks, including Oz.

Speaking of political electorates, the largest in the world is Kalgoorlie in Western Oz, which embraces 2.2 million square kilometers.

Remember ex-media mogul Conrad Black, jailed for 3 years for defrauding investors? Here's part of an interview by the BBC's Newsnight program, with Black saying what he thinks about the American justice system. Whoa! He's certainly not backward in coming forward!

And there goes another Chewsdee... almost. There'll be lots of talk about the Romney/Obama clash tonight on telly, for sure. Gary

October 22, 2012. BR João writes: In the commentaries on US presidential elections is common to see references to the vote of Whites, Blacks and Latinos. Astonishing! In their obsession with races, US invented a new one, Latinos. What are those they call Latinos?

The majority of “Latinos” in US are Indians from Central America and Mexico. In this region European colonist found structured and big populations, like the Aztecs and the rest of Mayas. They were not almost extinguished like the rest of North American Indians. The so-called Latinos in US are American Indians, or, in the alternative and euphemistic term, Native Americans. Ah, maybe here is the problem, if they are Native Americans how to deny them the right to live anywhere in America? The rest of the “Latinos” are mixed people of Europeans, Africans and Native Americans. Spanish and Portuguese didn’t mind miscegenation.

Race is a concept not recognized by Biology. For all human beings the gender and the species (classifications recognized by Biology) are the same, Homo sapiens. (I know, this sapiens is a joke, but blame Linnaeus, not me.) Anthropologists use the term ethnic to refer to defined groups of population. Latin as an ethnic term could refer only to the small population of Latium, a region of ancient Italy from where Rome emerged. Romans’ idiom was Latin, the language spoke in Latium.

The culture of Rome, base of all occidental culture, is called Latin due to Roman idiom. So Latin or Latino are cultural classifications. Sixty per cent of English words, for instance, has Latin origin, included the name United States, but English speakers usually don’t know this. America is a Latin name, since comes from the name of Italian navigator Americo Vespucio who visited the coasts of Brazil in 1501-2 working for the king of Portugal. He convinced the German cartographer Waldseemüller to give the name America to the continent he visited, presently South America, the original America. (The Library of Congress bought the last existing exemplar of this map.) Only two decades after the name America was extended to present North America by European cartographers. 

So I don’t know the reason of all that fuzz “Americans” make about “Latinos”. 

I always thought Latinos had something more to do with cha cha cha than dominus vobiscum. The first vinyl LP I bought was Ray Conniff and His Latin Rhythms... Besame Mucho, Spanish Nights, etc, so I figured Latinos had something to do with Latin music, and the languages of Spanish/Portuguese. All very confusing. But then I'm easily confused. And now even moreso because I'm visualizing American Indians on horseback surrounding a bunch of covered wagons and yelling dominus illuminatio mea or something. 

If I'm understanding João correctly, the term Latino has more in common with pasta and pizza than Sitting Bull. So if Sitting Bull didn't speak Latin, why would he be labelled Latino?

Like João, I keep hearing American references to the Latino and Black votes in the US Presidential election, but I've never really understood what the Latino vote actually means. I figured it had something to do with Spanish-speaking Americans.

I must say, when I watch gardening programs, I'm amused by people who insist on referring to various plants and flowers by their botanical names. Imagine Shakespeare writing "a rosa rubiginosa by any other name smells as sweet". I suppose scientific names given to flora and fauna help to simplify the confusion brought about by the world's diversity of language.

The other thing that becomes very apparent when you watch gardening shows is that the stuff that comes outta the backsides of cows, horses, chickens and whatever eventually ends up on our dinner plates. David Attenborough was on telly last night doing his thing at the Kew Gardens hot house in England, the largest in the world. It's an amazing place with an enormous range of flora housed on its 300 acres. Kew director Sir William Hooker commissioned Decimus Burton to begin work on the glasshouse in 1859. With voracious Victorian collectors bringing back ever more species from around the globe, Kew needed somewhere to house its growing collection of semi-hardy and temperate plants. The Temperate House was officially opened, unfinished, in 1863. Because costs had soared during construction, it was not completed for another four decades.

In some of the scenes, you'd swear Attenborough was on location in some exotic rainforest in Peru or Africa rather than just up the road from the local tea house. Most of the show was about the various tricks used by flowering plants to convince insects to act as couriers for their pollen. Some of their techniques are nothing short of genius. Actually, most gardeners will tell you that plants have a symbiotic relationship with their carers; that they are aware of the affection and attention they receive from their human "friends" and respond accordingly. Who among us doesn't enjoy a stroll through a park or garden?

If those glasshouses look like the upturned hulls of ships it's because that's what the design was based on. The design and construction was considered a technological marvel of the time.

I don't think gardening will be on the minds of Romney and Obama at the mo. Pruning, maybe. Or even some burning and slashing. It's the final debate tomorrow Oz time - foreign policy - but I can't see them ignoring the economy because that's the key issue. Anyway, it should be pretty lively even if it is a bit too late to change the minds of most American voters. I don't think there will be any surprises no matter who wins. It could go either way. Four years ago, with Obama challenging the likes of McCain and Palin, it was a no brainer. Not this time. Jeez, if Romney thinks Obama didn't get the last 4 years right, imagine the mess McCain and Palin would have created.

Oregon Richie has already cast his vote: I did all my voting tonight, which is done by mail in OR and it'll go into the PO box tomorrow.  It did not take a long time to do, actually. No, I imagine it didn't. I've heard about 40% of votes are made early and/or by mail and that most of those are expected to favor Obama.

As to the Odyssey, Richie also writes: I don't see much point in any saber-rattling about setting a specific date for the AO since it'll be when it'll be, and I do recognize some fiscal realities AND practical that go along with that.  Still, one would not wish to construct any barriers or too many conditions about that sort of thing or chances are they will never be ideally met and there you are, which is not out there.  So.  I'm confident you'll figure it out, even if it comes down to being on "a wing and a prayer", so to speak.

Yes, I think you're right... a wing and a prayer, which is pretty much the way I've done everything in my life. Most folks retire, sell their million-dollar homes, buy a $300,000 motorhome and toddle off into the distance with a million still in the bank. Either that or they're young and fit backpackers who make a few bucks along the way picking fruit or working odd jobs and sleeping rough. This old geezer is trying to put together a reasonable combination of camper/ute and a few home comforts on a VERY tight budget. But it'll happen. And as TX Greg once said, the view from a small Winnebago looks just as good as the view from an expensive motorhome. I mean who the hell needs caviar and champagne when you can have grilled cheese and tomato on toast and a beer?

Nah... I'm not worried about the wing and a prayer thing. It'll be no more difficult to survive on the road as anywhere else. For starters, I'll have my house, solar power, next to no rent to pay, and a permanent income (albeit basic). That'll do. Anyone for a goanna sandwich? Farmer Brown also donated a watermelon when he wasn't looking.

And that's it Ls and Gs, time to vacate this chair and swap it for the TV chair and a bit of catching up with world events. That little digital TV I bought for $130 works well ya know, and is also about the right size for the camper. And it's a DVD player. Gary

October 21, 2012. Malt! I almost forgot about malt! As a kid, I was crazy about milk shakes (hanging out at the local milk bar, playing pin ball and listening to the juke box) and I particularly liked double malt in mine. Do they still sell it in supermarkets? I'll check. As to cinnamon, NC Art reckons be sure you use genuine Ceylon cinnamon; it has less  of the strong, biting experience and is a healthy condiment in resisting some forms of cancer.

There ya go. I didn't know about Ceylon cimmananananan. The one I used is Dutch... they were busy in the East Indies at one time taking advantage of the spice trade and cheap labor. Art also says the electric car pictured yesterday is a Chevy Volt. Figured it was. Holden and Ford in this country are into lots of re-badging. Raise a Ford or Holden bonnet/hood and you see Nissan, Izuzu, Opel or whatever. The only two cars made in Oz now are the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon. Not sure about Toyota's Camry.

Art goes on: Today’s newsrag informs us that the onset of puberty has dropped a full year. Stunning, huh? White males average is now nine years of age. Blacks and Latinos hover around the ten year mark. Females are a bit younger today, but not significantly. And the earliest symptom of puberty is growth of the testes. Who knew? And that jogged my memory of Wingnut, who doesn’t seem to fit the pattern exactly. At 11 going on 12, he is um, precocious, banging his wang and Cody’s and other grommets, expressing a steadily thickening fluid, and generally ‘doing it’ several times a day. We are privy to his first lone pubic hair, his gleeful pride in showing off his descending testicles and then at 12 his voice has not yet changed. That part, like most of Wingnut’s antics, is atypical, what? Must be something in the Cape Town water. Oh well, like that whole mob, a bit unbelievable.

Dunno about unbelievable. Remember when Mark warned Cody he'd better watch the Grommet because he'd probably try to steal Steph? Wingnut also had a good relationship with Mr T... he had a certain maturity beyond his years. Yep, he was atypical. Steve often said he was like a little boy in some respects and an older teen in others. My favorite memory of Winger was the way he'd come home from a game of rugby, one sock up, one down, grass stains and mud all over, and make sure Cody saw all the battle scars before he went home to shower. Hehe.

TX Greg wrote: Remember me writing about our State Fair Big Tex. It was the last week of the fair and yesterday (Friday) morning an electric short set him ablaze. I still remember being about 5 years old and looking up at him and hearing that "Howdy Folks". Tons of memories for millions gone in just few short minutes.

Well, strictly speaking, it's Tex who's gone, not the memories. I read some of the Youtube comments suggesting building a new Tex while others said it wouldn't be the same. Reminds me of Cody and Mark's graduation from high school and Cody trying to console Wingnut sulking under a tree: "It's not the same," he pouted. The poor little grommet felt abandoned. But he survived, like we all do. In fact, he survived to stand in Cody's room one day and say to Steve, "It's like he's still here, 'cept we can't see him."

Roite. Back from shopping with my malt, strawbs and plain (Greek style) yoghurt. Anyone would think I'm on a health kick. The malt is not plain malt... couldn't find any, so I settled for Nestle's Malted Milk which is a powdered supplement with vitamins that you add to milk. It does contain about 1/3rd barley malt though. I'll keep it pretty simple. Milk, yoghurt, malt, 3 strawbs, and see how it goes.

Ready for the taste test? It's the color of a strawberry milk shake, which figures. Here goes. Hmmm. Nice but a bit subtle. Needs either a bit more strawberry or a bit more malt. Probably malt. Back in a tick. Yes, that's better... remembering that I used to order double malt as a kid. Needs something else though to bulk it up a bit more. Seems like yoghurt doesn't work the same as ice cream... not as creamy. Actually, half a banana would probably do the trick. On the other hand, it might overpower the strawberry. Maybe I'm being too picky. It's pretty damn good the way it is. One advantage the yoghurt has over ice cream is that it's not as sweet. I'm not too crazy about overly sweet things. Anyway, it's bloody filling! I've only had one glass and I'm not sure I can handle another. I used one glass of milk so the rest of the ingredients gave it the bulk of two.

But it'll be back to junk tonight. I'm donning the chef hat and serving up snags, onions and fried eggs... with gravy.

Here's a pic I took the other day in Tuncurry I titled God's Next Door Neighbors.

The view from the apartment tower is over a huge lake, the bridge (to Forster), marina and breakwater that leads to the Pacific Ocean. I reckon I could handle retiring to something like that. Behind me is a park beyond which is the Fisherman's Co-op where the daily catch from scores of boats is stored on ice and sold. The building also houses a seafood restaurant with the best (and freshest) fish 'n' chips in town. I've seen the servings and they're enormous! They also sell oysters, lobsters, prawns, crabs, calamari and pretty much anything else that lives in the sea... or used to.

And thar goes the weekend. Not too thrilling but that's the way it goes sometimes. Even the Beeb is hard up for news... however, I noted that it did mention the demise of Big Tex. So, boils and goils, till we meet again, it's seeya later mate, no worries. Gary

October 20, 2012. Satdee again! I forgot to mention yesterday what Steve W wrote about patience and fishing: Fishing is not about patience but about perseverance……..there is a difference as I am the most impatient person around but I will always persevere. Perverse……perhaps! =

Yes, perseverance, or as Oregon Richie says 'keep your eyes on the prize'. I think one of the reasons I persist with the Odyssey is because my father conked out without having seen much of anything. Maybe I have my mother's mother's genes. She used to take trips on cruise ships. From what I understand she died penniless at 90+ cos she blew all her dough having a good time hehe. I didn't really know the woman. She gave me a copy of 'They're A Weird Mob', a novel written by John O'Grady under the pseudonym of Nino Culotta, an Italian who came to live in Oz and thought we Aussies were a bit strange. The book was made into a film in 1966. Anyway, that's about all I remember of my grandmother. I didn't really know the other one either, except on rare occasions when we visited her place she would give us kids toffee apples. Oh yes, and her backyard. It was just an expanse of bare lawn. Not a tree in sight, and nothing to climb. 

Steve also recommends a good whizzer: I would highly recommend a good juicer. You could just about live on freshly juiced fruit and veges. The only pain is cleaning the bloody thing afterwards, but it is worth the effort.

The hand-held one I have is simple. You just detach the blade section, rinse it under the tap and that's it. It has a metal guard that covers the blades so they don't damage the jug that holds the contents. Anyway, I'll try it today - banana, milk, cinamon, honey, ice cream. If I wanted to make it healthier, I could add a scoop or two of Sustagen, a powdered supplement full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. I think I'll try without today, and with tomorrow.

Steve also reckons juicer/blenders use a lotta power. Do they? They're only on for a few seconds. The motor in the hand-held is 200W. I won't be connected to town power in the camper most of the time so maybe I'll have to put all the ingredients in a bucket, take off my shoes, and do the ol' grape stomp. Hehe. Ew!

ZYX also wrote: After reading today's AO, I feel compelled to make these comments: Yesterday is history so forget about it. Tomorrow is just a promise, so don't hold your breath. TODAY is all any of us can be sure make the most of it. Regrets?  Doubts?  Fears?..... If today is all we have, let's not waste it on those things. You were once a writer, an Author. Sooooooo

Actually, we can't even be sure of today, Gerry. We don't all fall off the perch at midnight ya know. 

Holden is about to release the new long-range Holden Volt, the first electric car of its kind in Oz. I'm pretty sure it's a product of GM in the US, and fully imported. It'll probably be a long time before electric cars are common though. Proper refueling infrastructure doesn't exist all over the country yet. And it still takes many hours to charge a battery. However, the Volt is sensible because it allows the independent use of battery and/or regular fuel.

I personally recommend levitation as the best way to get around. I've done it many times in dreams, effortlessly rising from the ground and gliding around the sky. Forget all about that arm-flapping business. There's none of that. Levitation is a wonderfully soothing experience, and it costs nothing.

And now, ladies and genitals, the big moment we've all been waiting for has arrived. (Drum roll). Mr Kelly raises the glass of Smoothie to his lips aaaaaaand.... ooer! There's a quizzical look on his face. Is there something wrong Mr Kelly? "A tad too much cinnamon." But??? "Otherwise, very nice."

Yes, I overdid the cinnamon just a bit. But I'm rather impressed by how easy and fast the little processor is. At first I didn't hold the jug, so the damn thing did a whirly gig. The suction is also much more than I expected... once power is applied (lower of two speeds) it sucks the processor down to the base of the jug. But it's all over in a few short bursts. Magic! So now I'll be able to buy all kinds of fruits and vegies and not have to worry about a bit of bruising. Strawbs at the mo are in over supply and cheap. Actually, I think I might have overdone the honey as well... a tad sweet for me. I'll flick the ice cream as well and use plain yoghurt. But I think I can say my first attempt at a smoothie was a success. Now, it's just a matter of creative imagination. Chicken legs, bacon rashers, T-bones... Hmmm, I notice it's quite filling as well.

Now I'm wondering if All-Bran, milk and some fruit (even sultanas) can be whizzed into a drink rather than served as breakfast in a bowl. No chewy or floaty bits... just straight down the screech. I'll give it a try. The limibilities are possitless.

Hot and strong westerly winds and 37.2C (99F) at the mo. Dat's hot! A good day to be inside. Back to a more respectable 28C tomorrow.

From the Beeb: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has derided US President Barack Obama, saying his rival has "no agenda" worthy of a second term in office. Well, there ya go, Romney is fulla surprises. Meanwhile, Obama reckons Romney is suffering Romnesia. The third and final debate next Monday should be pretty lively now that the gloves are off.

A car bomb in Beirut that killed 8 people including Lebanon's head of internal intelligence has been blamed on Syria. The Turks are not too happy with Damascus either. Bashar al-Assad must be a lunatic to be courting trouble from his neighbors when he's already got his hands full with Syrian rebels.

So there ya go, dear Breth, the world is still nutz. I'm thankful to the Kellys who sailed on a tall ship to the Great Southern Land back in the mid 19th century otherwise I wouldn't be here, and I think I'd rather be here than somewhere else. We might be a little crazy Down Under, but it's not a bad kinda crazy. Gary

October 19, 2012. Do you really give a damn about what I have for breakfast? Or what I think? Or what I do? On Catalyst last night, they talked about the I generation; people who communicate via the internet using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc, and how the trend brings narcissism to the surface in those obsessed with tweeting and blogging. They edit their lives into an allegedly interesting precis of an otherwise dull existence and present it to the world as representative of who and what they are. Almost every sentence ends in LOL. Hehe. LOL ain't in my vocabulary.

Don't believe me? I just did a search of AO to be sure. :-P

I often write stuff and wonder who the hell might find it remotely entertaining. But I write it anyway. Like so many others, I became a radio announcer because I sought attention. Lots of DJs did... many of them social misfits... people who believed if they associated themselves with pop stars on vinyl some of the fame would rub off. And it did. When I arrived in town for my first job in country radio, I honestly expected the local press to be at the hotel to interview me. Hehe. I arrived at the station next morning to be told by the boss that the only reason I was hired was because I was "the best of a very bad bunch" (of applicants).

I think I've been around long enough to be well past the narcissistic stage. However, I'm still driven by the need to perform even though I've got Buckley's of ever becoming famous for it. In any case, I'm not sure being famous is the point. Fans are scary. They expect too much. At the mo, I can sit here minus dentures, combed hair or shoes and tap merrily away at the keyboard knowing I'm invisible. The real world is far more demanding than the virtual.

To woo Cody, I created Daniel. My association with Daniel was enough for Cody to also consider me his "soul buddy"; the "Awesome Old Dude". It was a bit like a DJ associating himself with stars on vinyl. But Cody knew very little about me. The focus was almost entirely on him and his friends, and he lapped it up. He was the center of attention. Was he narcissistic? I believe he was. So was Steve. So was Wingnut. So was Mark. Typical teens who believed the world revolved around them. Cool with me. My job was to tell their stories, not mine. 

And so it is with the Odyssey. The message far outweighs the importance of the messenger, but the association is still there. It's where I go, who I meet, what I see, as well as a relatively interesting presentation thereof, that matters. 

I've seen fame by association a million times during my "career" in media. Guys I knew when they were nobodies who associated themselves with football teams, politicians, actors, singers and other celebs who then went on to become just as famous as the stars they brown-nosed. Yeah, the ol' who you know trick.

So I suppose it's fair to say I've still got something to prove...  something to justify my existence. For most people my age, having grandkids is sufficient justification. Then there are others who don't see a need to justify anything, like L&S.

Steve W wrote to say he's not angry with me. He's just sticking a rocket up my arse to get me moving, and believes that setting a firm date will help. He appreciates the variables involved though. Well done for getting "John Laws and Porta Potti in the one paragraph. Try for the one sentence next time please? Steve is obviously not a fan of JL. Shock jocks like JL and Alan Jones and Ray Hadley (one of the brown-nosers I mentioned earlier) use the same technique... alienate a large section of the public in order to galvanize a loyal band of followers. Works every time. Mr Nice Guy doesn't get anywhere in the commentator business.

For rock and rollers, the trick is to upset the moms and dads so the kids will love you.

Meanwhile, NC Art finally managed to work something out with his printer/scanner/fax: Now just for the halibut, codwalloper, or other ugly fish, here’s the friggin picture I bled and died over. A JPEG PIRATE JAKE! This wondrous program by Microsoft comes with lots of new bells and whistles, most useless, but it is very fast in screwing stuff up as in FUBAR. Feast your eyes on it and delete as you wish.

Yes, learning new programs can be infuriatingly frustrating (or vice versa). BTW, Art called it a Pirate Jake because I told him JPEG was named after Jake, a pirate with a wooden leg. Hehe. I love the house, though. How elegant. Most impressive. Meanwhile, do I spy with my little eye something that starts with K out the back? Looks a bit like a Volkswagen Kombi but it's probably something else.

Michael Palin, ex Monty Python, renowned world traveller has finally included Brazil amongst the stamps in his passport. Here he talks about his new adventure in the fifth largest country on Earth. Great photographs!

Also from the Beeb: The Boy Scouts of America has disclosed 14,500 pages of secret documents on men suspected of sexually abusing children, after a lengthy legal battle. The Oregon Supreme Court ordered the files from 1959 to 1985 to be released, despite the Boy Scouts' objections. Any surprises there?

I haven't been a well little Vegemite today, ladies and genitals. Not sick but tired. Drained. Maybe it has something to do with diet. A couple of things I bought recently I'll have to ditch, or give to Averil. Anything that crumbles or needs to be chewed is all too hard. I haven't tried the mashed egg in mayo on a pancake yet. But the All-Bran crumbles into little bits that bury themselves in awkward crevices, and the tiny dust particles stick to my lips and refuse to budge. The raisins (being dried) require too much chewing. I can handle a banana okay, though. Pitiful, isn't it? It takes a dry mouth like mine to make you realize just how important saliva is.

Maybe I should get one of those food whizzers that make health drinks. Now there's an idea! I just did a quick Google and saw quite a few smoothies that use all kinds of yummies. No chewing and no crumbly bits! I reckon a food processor would work okay in the camper too, with two deep cycle batteries and an inverter. It wouldn't draw much power. Fact is, I have a hand-held one in the kitchen. I bought it for whipping but its blades are not suitable. They're designed for chopping and blending. Perfect! It's been sitting there unused for years. If it doesn't do the job properly, a better one is only about $40 or so. Soooo, it's back to the shops tomorrow for yummies!

Bloody hell, it's past 5:30pm and time to fly. Gary

October 18, 2012. You'd think a piscatorially inclined person like Steve W would know how to exercise patience: I read your waffle every day, religiously, (though without any thought of God) but for fucks sake……..stop the Waffling and start planning. Set a date - that's the most important thing, without that it could continue for years. Ok, here's the challenge, February 1, 2013. You need a target……..not a wish list. Stop procrastinating and fucking around - it's your life and it aint getting extended by the time you spend testing lenses and apertures. You know how to respond under pressure being live on radio - this is not that pressure, just decide the date and do it. 1st February 2013 …….that's the date……and head North!

Ooer! I think Steve's mad at me. Setting a date is very sensible. However, there are a few variables I can't control. On the 12th of next month, I have an appointment with Dr Clark, the cancer specialist in Sydney. What will he have to say about my recovery so far? I won't know until then. Meanwhile, my dentist is buggerizing around, waiting for the nod from a Sydney specialist (in radiation therapy) about a tooth with exposed bone at the base. If you ask me, he's procrastinating in order to avoid being held accountable for his professional advice. He's probably worried about being sued. Problem is, the government has now put a time limit on my dental procedures. After December 1st, the work won't be claimable on Medicare. That's less than 6 weeks away which could mean goodbye new dentures. AND THEN I have an appointment on Feb 11 with the radiation doc in Port Macquarie. What will he have to say about my recovery?

3 years ago I bought Bluey. Big mistake. Then I bought Das Busse. Bigger mistake. Now I have a camper that won't fit my ute. Hehe. But it's not a mistake... just a temporary inconvenience. However, the camper arrived not because I'd set a date on getting one. It arrived because, out of the blue, the opportunity to buy a decent one at the right price presented itself. It's a similar situation with the new ute. So there ya go, setting a date ain't gonna make a shred of difference to the variables. All I can do is bait the hook and leave it to the right fish to come along when it sees fit. I've had enough of catching old rubber boots and puffer fish.

Mind you, despite not being able to set a firm date at this stage, February is what I'm aiming for. Then, every 5 months or so, I'll need to return to Sydney and Port Macquarie for checkups with the docs, and that'll be the case for the next 4 years. 

John Laws, a Sydney talk-back radio pronouncer is always talking about "Keeping The Dream Alive", which is what I'm doing. Despite being unable to turn the dream into reality at this point (or indeed for the past 5 years), I keep talking about it because I don't wanna let go of it. I believe that having a dream is just as important as realizing it. Without it, what would I have left? Perish the thought. Currently I have a collection of good cameras because I have a dream. I have a great camper because I have a dream. I have a ute (albeit the wrong kind) because I have a dream. I have a web site because I have a dream. And a porta potti. I have a future because I have a dream. And I have Steve W jumping up and down in the one spot because I have a dream.

What's the bet when I finally leave this driveway for the last time I get a flood of emails saying "Congrats! I knew you could do it!"

NC Art was a bit mystified by the pic I posted yesterday: The photo is a decided oddity. A structure the size of a hen house. Signs indicating, apparently, that it is a car dealership for Ford and/or Chevrolet. Gasoline sign for Pure, Esso, Standard, Phillips, etc.—most of which no longer existing as separate brands. A large expanse of space on all sides, occupied by two forlorn vehicles. Anachronism, by appearance. So what’s the untold story?

Good question. I have no idea. It was posted on an auto newsgroup with no explanation. I thought it might be something to do with the preservation of parts of Route 66 but the photo is titled The Little Log House, Prairie Village, Minnesota. Maybe it's some kinda re-creation, tourist park thingy. Kinda weird, though. It's called Chevrolet Garage but has an early post-war Ford police car parked on the apron. The big Ford sign appears to be next door, closer to the camera, and perhaps all that remains of a dealership adjacent to the Chevrolet Garage. Is Route 66 in Minnesota? I dunno.

Art's been testing his technological learning skills on a new scanner/fax/printer, trying to save a scan of his old house in JPEG format without success. I received it as a PDF. But I can tell you that it's a beautiful old house, the kinda thing you'd expect to see in Gone With The Wind. (Update: Art succeeded but only in this small format). The house was 87 years old when I bought it and built in 1883, one of three on the same general plan in Morganton, N. C. A dozen or more families were reared in it apparently. For years after I moved in people would mention that they or their parents once lived there. Several owners made additions for convenience—bathrooms and heating system—such as they were. Electricity was an after affair also.

When I first saw the pic, I thought how it would have made a splendid "haunted house". It has that look about it. So I wasn't surprised when Art wrote: Another bit of lore concerned the only woman in North Carolina convicted of murder and hanged. Her name was Frankie Silver who killed her drunken, philandering husband and burned most of his body in the fireplace and buried the remains under the flooring of their cabin near the town of Morganton. Local historians placed the hanging tree in my front yard three blocks from the jail and county courthouse. The tree was very old and became a victim of a lightning strike while I lived there. The trunk was more than six feet in diameter, and I counted more than 150 annular rings on the stump after I had it removed. I estimate more than 250 years of age, but I got tired of counting after 150. There was one sturdy branch perfectly suited for a hanging! I hated to see that stalwart oak sawed up and hauled away.

I think that's a perfect recipe for a story about Frankie Silver's ghost wandering the halls at night, don't you? Actually, I checked out a pic on Red Bubble yesterday of what little was left of a house, now overgrown by vegetation. The photographer said he felt as though he was being watched as he took the pic, and glanced over his shoulder several times. Overly fertile imagination, if you ask me. I don't believe in ghosts... hopefully they feel the same about me. 

Back from shopping. The checkout chick was talking about those "green" bags we're encouraged use instead of plastic ones... "but ours are biodegradable so you don't have to feel guilty". I'm also biodegradable, I told her. In fact, at only 55 kilos (121 pounds), I'm degrading quite rapidly. Anyway, the point of the convo was that I'd only brought one bag with me which wasn't enough. So she went on to say "you wouldn't believe what I find in some of the bags customers bring into the store". I didn't really wanna know but she told me anyway. "One time I put my hand into one - and I remember whose bag it was - and there was staphylococcus in there. I get pimples, so I must have touched them after putting my hand in the bag and an hour later my face was out here (hand in front of face). I had to get six needles in my face! But your bag is clean. I won't touch bags that aren't."

I also bought an adjustable roasting rack, not because I'm gonna roast anything, but because I need a flat rack for the tray that fits under the gas grill in the camper. It's the only rack I could find of the right size. The fact that it's adjustable is irrelevant. Flat is all I need. But at $9 it's cheap enough. It's also sturdy and chrome plated, which matches the tray. Yeah. All that buggerizing around just for grilled cheese on toast.

Back from trying the fit. The two pieces weren't made for each other so it's not 100%. I'll have to settle for 99.999.

Yes, 121 pounds ain't too flash. When I had the stomach tube, I could pour lots of that high nutrition stuff straight into my gut. But there's only so much of the goo I can stand to drink. One a day is it. The main issues are my inability to chew properly, old dentures that no longer fit, gums that get sore quickly if food requires any more than minimum mastication, and a lack of sufficient saliva. Other than that, everything's fine and dandy. If it weren't for the fact that I'm fading away to oblivion, I wouldn't care. Having to run around in the shower to get wet doesn't bother me at all. Sooo, I bought some breakfast cereal and sultanas today. All-Bran has been around for ages (keeps you healthy on the inside) and I've always liked it. The only way I can eat certain things is if they're in milk or lots of gravy or juice or whatever. Come to think of it, I should have bought some bananas to go with the All-Bran. I'll get them tomorrow. I also bought some snags and spuds and Eddy's chicken rissoles and fish cakes. And more Pancake mix. And eggs.

How I long for a simple egg sandwich... boiled egg mashed in mayonnaise with shredded lettuce on buttered bread! How divine! It's the bread that's the problem... soaks up too much saliva. But maybe the mayonnaise will be wet enough. Yeah? I'll give it a shot. Hmmm. What if I made a thin pancake and rolled it up with the egg mixture and lettuce inside? Good thinking, 99. I'll give it a shot tomorrow.

But for now, it's seeya later alligator time, and more of the chow mein which is taking me forever to get through. Even the prawns are tough to chew. Poor ole G, he's such a sad case hehe. The old dear will be lucky to see the bloody week out. Actually, I don't bitch about my lot as a rule. I figure if that's the way it is, that's the way it is. My brain still works (after a fashion) and my fingers still do their thing. Speech is a bit of a worry but hopefully that'll get better in time. And with a bit of luck, my egg, mayonnaise and lettuce pancake tomorrow will prove to be a success! So there's always something to look forward to.

Which reminds me, I haven't checked the Beeb yet. Whoa! Here's something amazing... a photography award for Penguin Power.

And back to food for a mo, Vegemite started as a wartime substitute for Marmite, but it's now as symbolic of Australia as Sydney Harbour Bridge and the koala. How did this salty spread become so popular?

US officials have arrested a man for plotting to detonate what he thought was a massive bomb in front of the Federal Reserve building in New York. Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Bangladesh, travelled to the US with the intent of planning a terrorist attack, the FBI said. Mr Nafis is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda. The consensus of opinion I'm watching now on The Drum is that the bomb attempt won't affect the election outcome (as 9/11 did for GWB).

Anyway, it's time for me to do the Bondi Tram trick and shoot through. Gary

October 17, 2012. Yesterday I asked a question about how the damn system works. Here's what NC Art reckons: Humans were first hunter/gatherers. Inexorably, the next stage became accumulators. Hunting stuff, gathering stuff, and piling up stuff. Of course police were then needed to guard the stuff from freeloaders, outlaws and in-laws. What a cycle. But we all should remember a once simpler life. Before I married and got civilized I could take off on a train with one small brief case carrying a book, a spare pair of undershorts and a toothbrush. Good enough for a weekend or two weeks. Ah, but now I need so much least until forced to do without most of it after an airline loses all but your carry-on bag with book, undies and toothbrush. Circle squared.

Yes, the problem lies in accumulation, and not in hunting and gathering. Australian Aborigines were very sensible. They never built fences around their food, or even houses for that matter. They followed the example of other animals and simply survived off the land wherever they roamed. Imagine that... 40,000 years with no inflation. As to houses and rising prices, Art adds: I recently found a photo of my last house, and if I can learn to use a new copier/fax/printer/scanner I’ll shoot you a copy. In 1970 I paid $14,500 for it, spent twice that on nailing it back together before moving in, and sold it in 2004 for $175,000. Of course, the purchase price and initial fixes were just a fraction of on-going repairs and maintenance, much of it in “sweat equity.” All in all, I doubt the final sale price realistically covered all that went into it. Figure in inflation and it became a losing proposition! But it was a place to live and big enough for many large parties. So, plug in satisfaction and I’ve got nothing to bitch about!

The main difference between Art's house and my little "workers cottage" was that mine wasn't big enough for large parties. But I had them anyway. Many a time I've checked a house/apartment one final time just to make sure it's been emptied of all my belongings (accumulations) before moving on to the next abode. It's rather poignant to witness all that remains of a home now minus its soul... bare rooms, bare hallways and bare walls that echo footsteps. What was once a home is now a house. What was once alive with the chatter of voices, laughter, television or radio, doors opening and closing, footsteps on stairs, a car arriving in the drive is now starkly silent; an empty shell, the victim of total exodus. That's why I've been putting bits of stuff in the camper... to give it more of a homely feel and a sense of belonging. After all, once this joint is empty, the camper takes over. And guess what? Accumulation gets the flick.

A spokesman for a real estate company in Sydney on telly last night said the days of investing in property for profit are over. These days it's a long term investment in accomodation and security for raising a family. The story included one young family forced to sell their house of 4 years because of rising interest rates and an inability to meet the mortgage repayments. They bought when interest rates were at rock bottom. As the spokesman pointed out, if you buy when interest rates are at their lowest, there's only one way for them to go. When buying a property, unless you factor in the probability of sickness, accident, unemployment, rising interest rates, kids reaching school age, etc, you're asking for trouble. When I first bought my little house in Glebe, my furnishings were bean bags and a mattress on the floor. My fridge was a used $50 caravan fridge. I had a $20 washing machine and a used half-size wardrobe. Oh, and a $20 B&W telly.

Yesterday, I bought a ticket in Lotto's $30M jackpot. Let me just say that the rest of the prize winners only had $29,999,977.30 left to share amongst themselves.

TX Greg has been having some thoughts about what I wrote yesterday: "I'd kill to know what thoughts will be running through my mind that first day."

Well as you leave the driveway you should sing, "hi ho a gawking we will go" hahaha. 

Seriously though you should look back at what Daniel told you two years ago... "As you embark on your new odyssey, yes one door closes yet another door opens. A new morning, a new adventure." 

We all get into that comfort zone or rut. You've been living and putting up with S&L for over ten years now, yet it's been your zone and yes this will be a big change. Perhaps you're still wondering if this is really the right choice. That is a very hard question to answer. But even you once said you could park your rocking chair on the front veranda and watch the world go by or you can get out there and do what you can, while you can. I admire that you have this dream, whereas me I'll take the rocking chair, hehe.

I'm beginning to realize how much of the world goes by your front veranda. Not much. There's only one way to see more of the world, and that's to get a mobile veranda. What I can tell you from experience is that a cuppa outdoors in the morning tastes a lot better than it does indoors... unless, of course, it's being seriously diluted by several inches of rain. One of my main motivators is Red Bubble where I constantly see images taken during early mornings or at sundown. One bloke the other day drove for hours to a location where he arrived before sunrise, and left his camera on B setting for 6 minutes to capture an image using only the faintest of light. Others have done similar things at night to capture star trails across the heavens as the earth revolves. Now there's no way I'm gonna wake before sunrise and drive for hours to take a bloody photo. A much more civilized way of doing things is to wake at dawn, walk 10 steps, take a pee, take a pic, go back to the camper and climb back into bed. All over in 5 minutes. Even Cody's Dawn Patrols were only a stroll away. Very sensible.

I have no desire to travel the world (not even if I could afford it). To return home with a bunch of pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the London Bridge, the Changing of the Guard and a bowl of fruit on Art's dining room table is not exactly my idea of photography. I prefer country towns and mountains and beaches and forests, and old rusted cars and abandoned houses and interesting faces. And mining towns and Aborigines and didgeridoos and clinker-built row boats. What's more I wanna be close to those things and be able to touch them. I wanna be part of the experience. And you don't get all that from sitting in a rocking chair on a stationary veranda.

I'm 68, not 78 or 88. I'm only 3 years past retirement age (albeit still recovering from cancer). But I'm not about to cycle around Oz hehe, or climb mountains or drag myself by my fingernails across the Simpson Desert. I fully intend to stay within my physical limits and just potter about at my leisure. I'll leave the pitching of tents and the carrying of backpacks to the young and foolish. While they're swatting flies and trudging narrow trails up steep inclines, I'll be perched on a bar stool in an air conditioned pub sipping a chilled ale (and probably chatting up the bartender depending on how many ales I've had). If I wake one morning and think, "Oh, bugger it, I really don't feel like packing up camp and moving on," then I won't. No boss, no itinerary, no timetable, no rules, no worries.

In the bathroom, I heard a few snippets from the second debate between Romney and Obama. It's clear those two guys don't like each other. I hope they didn't do all that hand shaking and shoulder slapping and smiling like they did last time. How pathetic. Anyway, I gather from the report that they're going hammer and tongs, talking over the top of each other, ignoring the mediator and even the audience at times, and even appearing physically aggressive at close quarters. Apparently there was a hush in the press room at one stage when it looked like Romney and Obama might come to blows. Hehe. Good. That'll liven things up a bit.

And what's this business of having their wives on stage doing the big embrace? Can't the boys stand on their own two feet?

The BBC's Mark Mardell sums up the contest.

I agree with Mardell. Obama made up some lost ground but not enough to be declared the winner of the second debate. The third and final debate is less than a week away but unless either contender makes a serious boo-boo, this election will be about as close as it's possible to get. Even Ohio is equally divided.

I like writing and photography, yes? According to this report from the BBC, I could be a bit nutz. But you already knew that anyway.

So how was the chow mein last night? So so. At least the vegies weren't overcooked. But the meat wasn't as tender as I'd like. I still have a problem chewing, dammit. However, there's plenty left over so I'll use it up. I also had one of those lemon sorbet thingies I bought the other day. Sorbet schmorbet. Crushed lemon ice confection was more like it. Bleh. For lunch today I had rice cream and sliced peaches. Sheesh. How exciting.

Anyway, it's getting close to skedaddle time, Ls and Gs. I suspect I won't have this kinda timetable on the Odyssey. I mean if there's a bunch of surfers outside playing handball would you really expect me to be inside the camper Waffling? One of them might fall over and need a bandaid or something. I'm pretty good at sticking bandaids on. TX Greg sent a pic today of a bloke about to receive urgent medical attention.

Speaking of pics, I haven't posted one today. How about this one? Gary

October 16, 2012. My quarterly electrickity bill arrived yesterday... almost $700. Wow! For that I could almost buy a solar panel. So that's one bill I won't have to worry about on the Odyssey... or rent. I watched a program on telly recently about boarding houses in Sydney operating below acceptable health and hygiene standards, renting poky, cockroach-infested rooms without proper cooking or bathroom facilities for $150 a week to desperate people who would otherwise be homeless. There's been a surge in such places since the explosion of house prices in recent times. No shortage of assholes out there willing to take advantage of the unfortunate.

Maybe someone can explain to me how this damn system works! I bought a house just over 30 years ago for $31,000. A pittance by today's standards. But my neighbor Frank bought his 30 years before mine for less than $1000, which meant I paid over 30 times what he paid. 30 years later, my house sold for $700,000 which is 23 times more than I paid, or 700 times more than Frank paid 60 years ago. Where does it end?

Speaking of money, Youtube wrote yesterday to say that some of my vids are proving popular and invited me to "monetize" my account. Now, there's an interesting word... "monetize". It basically means allowing advertising on my stuff. If some of my vids were attracting big numbers I might think about it but not at the mo. It's not worth it. I'll keep it in mind though if/when an opportunity to shoot something with the potential to go "viral" comes my way.

Money, money, money. It's a bugger of a thing. We're all slaves to it. Even people who have oodles of the stuff are slaves to it. One of Averil's neighbors boils only enough water to make one cup of coffee hehe. Whereas Lindsay has this idea that the kettle should be filled to absolute capacity. He doesn't realize that boiling enough water to make a dozen cups of coffee costs more. I'm not about to enlighten him because I can't be bothered arguing. "I've always done it this way," is his standard response to everything.

Yes, ladies and genitals, one of these days I'll be far away from all this bullshit... probably wondering how the hell I put up with it for so many years. But then I'm not Robinson Crusoe in that regard. Lots of people tolerate situations that are not to their liking... loveless marriages, employment they loathe, oppressive regimes, etc. Maybe it has something to do with the devil you know.

Oregon Richie wrote of the Odyssey: I believe it will pan out to be one of the most important things you shall ever do, and certainly among the more adventurous and rewarding.

I think that's putting it mildly. Flitting about the country as a radio announcer was adventurous, I suppose, although to me at the time it didn't seem so. I was young and carefree back then, unafraid of the future. Then I was toppled off my perch and brought crashing back to earth with a thud. That kinda knocked the wind outta my sails. Mr Invincible became Mr Insecure.

However, despite all that, I have a feeling that once I'm on the road my fears and doubts will dissipate and I'll focus on the job at hand. That has happened to me many times before in front of a microphone or on a stage, or in a studio directing professional actors. Did you see the footage of that Austrian bloke Felix Baumgartner standing at the doorway of his capsule before making his daredevil plunge to earth 24 miles straight down? Once in the air (what little there was of it), it was time to accomplish what he had set out to do. No turning back. Yeah? For me, it'll be giving my notice to quit this house, selling up all my stuff (and sending the crap to the tip), making final adjustments to the camper and its contents, sleeping for the last time at this address, and then heading out the drive to wherever my nose leads me.

Just received a newsletter from Nicaragua and a letter from little Anyel Antonio with his photograph... all dressed up in his Sunday best and wearing white shoes. There's also a colored-in drawing of his hand, which is about the size of my palm. He's looking less grumpy as he gets older - not altogether jovial, but reasonably content - in fact he reminds me of my younger bro when he was that age. He'll be four next January. According to his mother, he's healthy and loves to play, so he's a happy kid. The community continues to receive medical aid, education, training in hygiene and nutrition (cooking) and various other assistance to improve their lives and set them on a course to self-reliance.

As to my own nutrition tonight, Meals on Wheels arrived with a special dish of combination chow mein which Sue doesn't want. So I'll have me a feast of beef, prawns, chicken, vegies and dried noodles. Sounds good to me!

So where will my first camp site be after I leave here? Not far, that's for sure. It also depends on the season whether I head south, north or even west. If I head north, there are a couple of camp sites on the coast, including one at Diamond Head beside the beach. It's all very civilized with showers, loos, fireplaces, etc. And how long will I stay? Ask me next morning. I'd kill to know what thoughts will be running through my mind that first day.

On the other side of the highway, inland a bit, is Coopernook Forest campground. So I suppose the idea will be to visit various towns and/or localities, check out the scene, take a few pics, and then drive to a nearby campground to spend a day or two assembling an album or editing a video before I move on.... interspersed with eating, drinking, napping, gawking and generally buggerizing around. Or something like that.

Back to Felix Baumgartner for a sec - when he was interviewed he said being "up there" in the stratosphere, at the very edge of space, was very humbling; that his prime objective at that moment was not to achieve his mission but to simply remain alive for the sake of his loved ones and friends. His comments made me think of how we humans can get carried away with our own perceived importance. I'm visualizing Hitler at the mo, shaking his fist during impassioned speeches to the faithful, dressed in his Nazi uniform and standing tall in his jackboots. And what is he now? A joke. A psychopath universally denigrated for his follies. So many of us forget who we are; disposable members of a passing parade of mortal ants who believe that some deity "out there" actually gives a damn about a speck of dust amongst trillions of billions of specks. We compare ourselves to our immediate vicinity, and to the relative importance of other ants around us. We measure time in days and months rather than in billions of light years.

However, it's all relative, isn't it. If Becky thinks Richie is Christmas, then for all intents and purposes he's Christmas. When Felix Baumgartner stood at the doorway of his capsule, poised to leap from a height of 24 miles back to earth, he was faced with the reality of who he was and what was truly important to him.

Not sure what my point here is, but I do get a bit peeved when I see Bishops parading around in their party frocks and funny hats, convinced that they are representative of all that's real and of great consequence. Ditto anyone else who deems himself superior to his fellows.

Anyway, be that as it may, for this amateur philosopher and old geezer it's time to call it a wrap and attend to some beef, prawns, chicken and noodles, and a bit of telly. Gary

October 15, 2012. I can hear Lindsay tipping rubbish into the wheelie bins before taking them out to the street for tomorrow morning's collection. He places them at the end of the driveway despite the fact that I'm leaving shortly to visit Forster Tuncurry for a video shoot. So I'll have to move them... AGAIN. As we say in Oz, he's not the full quid.

I watched the final episode last night of The Great Southern Land, a show about Oz shot mostly from the air as well as satellite. Last night, the host did his commentary from a police helicopter, a motorized paraglider and a hang glider. It was the hang glider that really got me. He described it as an old bed sheet held together with bits of wire. He didn't fly it himself, however. He hitched a ride with an experienced pilot. So the two of them took a running jump off a cliff and away they went (despite every instinct telling him it was a crazy thing to do). The flight was over the coastal area of southern Sydney and the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world. Yellowstone was the first. It's a huge area of natural bushland bounded on the east by soaring cliffs that rise vertically from the crashing waves of the Pacific. In the background you could see the metropolis which looked more like a small village in comparison to the immensity of the park. The hanglider was accompanied by an unseen companion which did the filming, and also received the host's running commentary from his radio mic. Only an eagle with its giant wings taking advantage of the thermals could have been more graceful in flight. It was magic. Effortlessly magic. And when it came time to land, they headed back to a beach where the glider slowed to a gentle halt, and all it took to return to terra firma was a few quick steps. Bloody remarkable. Here's a shot of the new coastal road that runs along the cliffs down to Wollongong. The hang glider flew over that as well. Yes, folks, I'll be driving along that road one of these days.

Also on the show was the Gold Coast in southern Queensland, and how (back in the '70s) the city was designed to withstand onshore erosion by the sea. But all the development of the nearby hinterland into a maze of lakes and canals and housing estates has seriously restricted the natural habitat of local wildlife, including snakes. The snakes actually survive quite well because people leave their garbage lying around, which feeds rats and mice, which in turn feed... yes, you guessed it. One bloke on the Gold Coast earns a good living as a snake catcher. He gets about 15 calls a day. One call took him to a house where there was a snake in the bathroom. The owner was still barefoot after being rudely interrupted when he went to use the shower. The snake catcher took a look ("watch your feet," he told the owner as he opened the bathroom door) and said, "Yep, it's an eastern brown." Eastern browns are the second deadliest snakes in the world, and have enough venom to kill 16 healthy adults. But it was no match for the snake catcher with his stick and bag. And experience. And big boots. He had it bagged within 2 minutes and out the front door. Later, he released it back into the bush. "Enjoy the rest of your day," he said. Hehe. Earlier, during the catch, he explained that all snakes can be aggressive if cornered because they think you're going to eat them. Fair enough. Meanwhile, if you're contemplating a holiday on the Gold Coast, keep your eyes peeled.

I was just about to toddle off when I discovered my mobile phone needed charging... sooooo.

BACK from Forster Tuncurry. Actually, I have been for a couple of hours. I was buggered so I took a nap. There was a terrible wind blowing, and I discovered that easterlies blow from the east, not towards the east. Yes, I know, I'd make a great sailor. In any case, any mental images I had of luxury boats casting mirror-like reflections in calm blue water were dashed. And the beaches? Flat as a pancake, choppy and populated only by a few brave souls. There were certainly no board riders. At about 2pm I was hungry and thirsty so I bought a little tub of ice cream. $4??? Sheesh. I can buy 10 choc coated ice creams on a stick for less than that at the supermarket. But I got a few shots. The Nikon is amazing. You just dial in a year and whammo!

That was the old ferry/punt that took traffic across the lake that separates Forster (on the south) from Tuncurry (on the north). Not sure what kinda cars are in the top shot but the bottom one shows two Vauxhalls, a late '40s convertible approaching the ferry and an early '50s leaving. And this is the bridge that replaced the ferry. The top one, you nincompoop. There's a hump at the far end where there's a deep channel for larger boats. Not sure how much of the Great Lakes system is navigable but I suspect most of it is... you can hire house boats there.

And here's something I just discovered... The first Amish community to settle in Oz settled in Nabiac, which is just down the road from here (Motorcycle Museum). I've been there! It's quaint for sure, but I didn't realize it was Amish.

Anyway, a second trip at least is needed to the area to get some better material for a vid. I really should get my act together and arrive early for still waters and lovely reflections. So the vid's on hold. Tellya what, I would love to have had the camper there to retire to when I get a bit tired, or to refresh myself with a drink/snack... and maybe take time out to check the pics before embarking on a second or third shoot. Now THAT would be civilized. None of this driving back and forth business and spending $4 on a piddly ice cream. Not only that, if for whatever reason the conditions for photography are less than ideal, I can camp overnight and give it another bash the next day.

Meanwhile, I gotta remember... easterly winds blow to the east, not from the east. Roite.

It's almost 6pm now which means you-know-what. I didn't do any shopping so dinner is a choice between scrambled eggs with cheese or steamed fish. Hmmm. And then some telly to catch up on world events. Oh, almost forgot! BR João wrote today: I loved the corked Isetta. More interesting than to drive it must be to drink all the wine necessary to get that amount of corks. And the surface of the car is like a connoisseur’s wine cellar with all those maisons names. Instead of Titanic, it will never sink. Isetta was the first car all produced in Brazil, between 1956 and 1961… if we could call it a car. They’re funny, at least I thought that when I was a young boy and could saw them in the streets. Volkswagen assembled the “beetle” here since 1952, in 1959 began the real production of it and Isetta tended to disappear.

Yes, I remember fitting a new clutch made in Brazil to my VW Kombi... much cheaper than a German one! And the engine was Mexican. Gary

October 14, 2012. Goodness, gracious me! It's almost half way through October. So tell me, does time actually move on or does time stand still while everything else around it moves on? Another thing I wanna know is did God wear ear muffs when he lit the wick for the Big Bang?

NC Art, a man of great experience and wisdom, wrote: A glance at your bird of paradise photo impressed me with the soft focus in background and foreground. Then I read your comments in the same mode. Good shot, my man! Incidentally, my son recently spoke of a digital camera which can produce sharp focus and depth of field. Seems the smarty-assed device reads focal length at several points and makes rapid multiple exposures for an allover sharp-focused image. Why didn’t you think of that 30 years go and get rich?

See what I mean about experience? Art said soft focus and I said blurry. Now I feel awful. The Nikon has 11 focus points that you can see in the viewfinder. Pretty amazing stuff. And that's entry level? You can also choose manual focus instead of auto but, as one reviewer said, why bother except in unusual circumstances? There's also focus lock where you can use auto to focus on a particular object, press the shutter half way to lock it in place, re-compose and then press the shutter all the way down to take the picture.

Art also wrote: I watched the Biden-Ryan debate and Biden won hands-down in my opinion. Both blokes told some whoppers, but Biden nailed Ryan without a comeback several times. Could I be prejudiced? ME? Heehee.

Interestingly, Art's opinion is shared by Oregon Richie: Depends on who you listen to in order to tell who "won" the VP debate.  I don't think Ryan did, and he got caught with his phony pants-down a few times.  MSNBC commentators made the note that he's not "really a liar.... he's a fibber... now Romney is a liar, but Ryan is growing into being a liar.....".  Social Services....?  The Supreme Court ?  Womens' rights and their own choices?  Education ?  Tax load on the middling peeps class?  Sheeeeet... makes me shudder if they get to move in to the big white house. I think Biden was just being himself, and they can complain all they want, which is a real wild position to take considering how rude, crude, and overlording to the point of foul bully tactics that Romney shelled out when he was on the stage......

Meanwhile, if most peeps feel the way I do, Wednesday's second debate between Obama and Romney will (or should) attract a huge audience due to the pasting Obama got after the initial debate. If anything, Obama's poor first performance has stimulated interest in the contest. Is he down for the count or will he rise from the canvas to send Romney to the ropes? Remember Steve's encounter in the ring with the school bully? And Cody's encounter in the ring with Alan? And Mark's encounter in the ring with a boxer who had Mark's measure until Mr T gave Mark some timely advice? Same story.

I watched another story about coffee grown in Oz last night. We produce about 1% of the world's coffee but it's very high grade and sells on the international market for about five times the average. It's sold in Asia, the US and Europe at a premium for connoisseurs. I've never tried it... probably too expensive for me. By the way, we make two kinds of coffee here... one for left-handers and one for right. The one above is for lefties.

There was another story about an experimental facility in the South Australian desert that harnesses solar energy, uses it to generate electricity and heat which in turn operates a large hot house where tomatoes and capsicums (bell peppers) are grown. At the same time, it draws bore water from an aquifer, de-salinates it, uses the fresh water for the hot house and packages the salt for sale as a biproduct. The experiment has been so successful, plans are underway to expand its capacity to grow many thousands of tons of fresh produce. The technology is also being sold to various countries that have a similar water-shortage problem, such as the Middle East and parts of Africa. Although the various technologies used in the plant are nothing new, this is the first time they've been used in a complementary fashion to run a completely independent and self-sufficient large-scale agricultural facility in a desert. Pretty snazzy, huh? I love watching Land Line... it's fulla cool stories like those. Nudja one was about young girls/women being lured to outback towns to become bush pilots. But that's nudja story.

On Gardening Australia, there was a story about a bloke of Italian heritage who loves weeds. He was taught as a kid by his mother to harvest certain weeds in the backyard to use in salads and cooking. It's important to know the difference between poisonous weeds and edible ones, of course, but he actually cultivates certain weeds in his own garden. "Weeds will always be with us," he says, "so why not make the most of them and eat them?" Makes sense to me. Actually, one of the more common weeds is mint. And who doesn't love the flavor of mint?

An Australian native that has been used by Australian Aborigines for thousands of years is lemon myrtle. But it's only fairly recently that it's been cultivated for use in all kinds of foods as a flavoring as well as in medicines, and exported around the world. Seems it's only just beginning to occur to Europeans that there's a good reason why Aborigines have survived in Oz for at least 40,000 years.

With a bit of luck, I'll be at Forster Tuncurry tomorrow videoing luxury cruisers and bridges and beaches and tall apartment blocks and pelicans and fishermen and who-knows-what. The forecast is for sunny and 25C which is pretty good, and easterly winds which means offshore - good for surfing. The smaller Fuji has an 18x zoom so if there are a few surfers out there I'll use that. Forster Tuncurry is in complete contrast to Taree. The former is a tourist/beach/boating environment in an area called the Great Lakes District and the latter is a commercial hub surrounded by farming communities and rainforest in The Manning Valley.

While I was shaving in the bathroom, I heard a woman on radio talking about her four children. She said one of her boys came home from school one day to announce that he'd learned in class about "doing it" to make babies. He told his mother that he was horrified to learn that she and his dad had "done it" four times! "Well, two of them are twins," she said. "Okay, so you did it twice and then once more for a really long time." Hehe. Here I am at 68 and I still can't imagine my parents "doing it" to make four boys. Okay... three and a bit.

Had a little chat with Averil today and showed her my new Nikon. She was most impressed and, naturally, put her greasy fingers all over the screen. She enjoyed the last lot of videos as well. We spoke about a number of things including all the positive press our Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been receiving overseas for standing up to the "sexist" leader of the opposition in Parliament, Tony Abbott, whom she calls a mysonigist. She says she's tired of the sexist insults and won't take it any more. She likes to remind us of how often she's been offended by various remarks from male politicians and male talk-back radio hosts. Well, darling, if you can't stand the heat, get outta the kitchen. As to being offended, so am I. Often. Every time I see that woman on TV I cringe. She's a liar. She's a cheat. She's got a big bum, a long sharp nose and wears old school ma'am clothes. Her critics call her a witch and a bitch. I agree. And I don't care who knows it. The sooner that woman and her minority government, supported by independents, are voted out of office and into political oblivion, the better. That droning voice of hers drives me nutty. What's more, Averil agrees 100%.

And now, dear Breth, once again it's time to ask Pete and Dud to perform the honors. Gary

October 13, 2012. Yesterday, we got a burst of winter - cold and wet. But it was worse south of here. The Blue Mountains just west of Sydney turned white with snow. Snow also fell in many other areas out west and on the southern tablelands. On the south coast, rain and gale force winds were the order of the day. But we're back to normal spring weather today, at least up here on the mid north coast... with warmer weather on the way. 

It's almost 6 months since I bought the camper. Back then I had to shuffle a few bucks around and borrow 2 grand to rake up enough to meet the $4700 I needed. Remember the auction? I was the highest bidder until the final few seconds when I was pipped by another bidder. $4700 was the highest I could go. But the next morning I got a note from eBay to say the high bidder had reneged on the deal, and I'd won the auction by default. Anyway, next pay day will be the final payment on the (interest free) $1000 advance I got on my pension. The other grand is about half paid off. So the camper is almost mine. Mineminemineminemine! Progress, dear Breth, progress.

NC Art was impressed with the didgeridoo and its players: WOW, those blokes honking the primitive wind instrument sure gotta have stupendous wind control! It’s another form of human’s innate sense of rhythm. Say it is the music of the spheres, and according to researchers, every primitive society has that sense of musical beat which corresponds to the background noise of the universe. Sounds okay to me.

Yep, even atoms have rhythm. And the beat goes on. Art also wrote: About the Ukraine vendetta against gays, logic is not conducive to enjoyment of prejudice. I just got a robo-call from Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and Southern Baptist preacher. He started a spiel about a constitutional amendment defining marriage. Naturally his view is informed by the Bible, I guess. None of this hell spawned gay horror, y’know. What a dunce, but dangerous. Pfutt!

As to the VP debate yesterday, I saw grabs on TV and heard various comments from observers. Most agree that Ryan held his own against a more experienced Biden but it was pretty even. Maybe Ryan by an eyelash. The worrying thing, of course, is the way the polls are going, with Romney making up ground and even leading in some state polls. I think a lot hangs in the balance for next week's debate. Obama really needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Gary Bauer, the Republican guy who ran back in 2004 was interviewed on Planet America last night and kept referring to Obama politely as "the first president of color". To me, he was avoiding the word black as if it had unsavory connotations. Some people refuse to call a spade a spade.

From the Beeb: US Republican candidate Mitt Romney says Vice-President Joe Biden made misleading remarks in a TV debate about the Libya consulate attack. Isn't that par for the course in politics? Anyway, Romney should talk.

A few years ago, I attended a horse jumping event at the Taree Showground. There was horse crap all over the place. On another occasion, I went to a Wingham cattle show. Crap everwhere, one of which I managed to step in. Another time, I visited Timber Town, the re-creation of a 19th century village where teams of bullocks roam the streets pulling a sled. Crap galore. So I was thinking about the stable where Jesus was born. According to most nativity scenes, camels, sheep, a donkey and an ox were present. Also, one has to wonder about Joseph and how much midwifery experience he had, particularly in unhygienic (not to mention unsanitary) conditions.

Furthermore, I Googled "manger": A manger or trough is a feeder of carved stone, wood, or metal construction used to hold food for animals (as in a stable). Mangers are mostly used in livestock raising. The word comes from the French manger (meaning "to eat"), from Latin manducare (meaning "to chew").

It's a bit like Hollywood westerns, isn't it. Lots of horses wandering about the main street of town but not a dollop of crap in sight. Ladies carrying parasols and wearing long dresses down to ground level crossing cleanly-swept streets devoid of mud or manure. I wish my questions had occurred to me during scripture classes at school instead of now. 

A while ago I bought some "Oaty Slices"... breakfast bar thingies with all kinds of goodies glued together with honey that you can eat on the run. But the first one soaked up all my saliva and then crumbled into little bits that secreted themselves into every tiny nook and cranny in my mouth where they were determined to spend the term of their natural lives. Even vigorous brushing failed to help. But it tasted good. So this time I got smart and decided to have one in a bowl with milk. Some of the bits are still playing hide and seek but the milk is helping to flush most of them out. All this buggerizing around is an attempt to gain weight, which I'm sadly lacking at the mo. If the floorboards in this joint weren't carpeted I'm sure I would have disappeared by now. I really need to bulk up. Anyway, it worked... kind of.

And what will my new Nikon do? I figured I'd better take a pic of something given that I've had the damn thing for almost a week. This is a macro shot of a Bird of Paradise flower in my backyard.

I'm rather impressed with the way the auto focus has blurred the very near foreground and the background but left the petals in focus... all at very close quarters. Now if you drew an eye just under the center petal on the husk, you'd have a live one!

Tellya what, tho, I'll be glad to leave all this lawnmowing, gardening and weeding behind. I quite like gardens and flowers BUT I'm too involved in other things like writing and photography to spend time digging holes. I enjoy watching gardening shows on telly and find them most informative and entertaining. Not only that, I also appreciate the pleasure and satisfaction gardeners derive from their hobby. But I'd rather be shooting the video than planting or pruning. And that, ladies and genitals, is the whole point of traveling Oz... to point a lens barrel at stuff. In fact, I sat for a while in the camper again today thinking about how it might be next year if everything goes to plan.

Meanwhile, my immediate plan is to turn on the telly and watch a few of my fav programs (yes, Gardening Australia is one of them) and then stuff my gob with a meat pie. Till we meet again... nah... I'll let Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sing it. Gary

October 12, 2012. President Fossil

Hey Gary,

"I dunno why they don't just scrap everything and put me in charge of the whole damn planet."


Nuff said. Oregon Richie also wrote: Gadzooks !!  You trying to tell us that the WHITE HOUSE did not answer you directly?  And sent you packing to the campaign site?  Hmm.  Well.. that could make good press, too... a citizen of OZ vitally concerned about the US political scene.  And it WILL make a diff... worldwide.  I just don't trust the current R folks one bit... they will say, do, amend, bullshoot, and whatever it takes to get POWER and then Lord knows what may happen.

And NC Art commented on "funny terms": IQ means intelligence quotient, so wot the ell is QI, Quantum Intelligence? Oh well. As for opium and its cousins, the stuff was freely sold at drug stores (chemist shop or apothecary) back when I was a lad. Cough syrup and various ‘tonics’ were laced with laudanum, an opium derivative. When the stuff was outlawed the pharmacists made some great tonics and syrups that were about 50 proof alcohol depending on age of the patient. People were very happy with the results. He he. Of course that didn’t last too long. Earlier the U.S. tried total prohibition and we all know how well that worked. One result was the income tax because liquor and the saloons made up 40% of the federal revenue to run the government. OOPS! On repeal of Prohibition the income tax kept right on being collected. “Oh what fools these mortals be,” quoth Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Well, the Good Book says to take a little wine for the stomach’s sake.

Well, QI (Quite Interesting), hosted by Stephen Fry, is a British comedy. So there ya go. Fry asks the panel a series of obscure questions, most of which they get wrong, and in the process end up with embarrassingly low scores well into the minuses. One question the other night was what do chickens and atomic bombs have in common. One panelist correctly answered that a cache of bombs was planted underground in England in anticipation of a Nazi invasion and chickens were used to keep the sensitive components warm. They were given enough food to last a week, apparently, and then... well... they were dispensable.

As to legal drugs, I always wondered why the US had places called drug stores where you could go for a soda. In Oz we had chemist shops (also known as pharmacies) and milk bars (sodas, milk shakes, candy, burgers, juke boxes and pinball machines). But the two were separate. The Happy Days gang always hung out at the drug store. What the...??? I was an avid fan of milk shakes as a kid... double ice cream and malt. Meanwhile, I agree with Puck.

From the Beeb: The Syrian plane forced to land in Turkey was carrying Russian-made equipment and ammunition for Syria's defence ministry, says Turkey's PM. Ah yes, life is full of surprises, yes? On the other hand, sometimes it's not.

Here's another one on the "not surprising" list: The Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah has admitted launching an Iranian-made drone that was shot down over Israel last week. 

However, I do find this surprising, not to mention disturbing: The Ukrainian parliament could give final approval next week to a bill that aims to outlaw "pro-homosexual propaganda" - any "positive depiction" of gay people, gay pride marches, or even the screening of a film like Brokeback Mountain. If passed, the bill would prevent anyone sending out a message that there is nothing wrong with being gay - whether in a newspaper editorial, a public speech or parade. This bill's authors have cited films like Brokeback Mountain as an example. Check out the photo at the head of the article

So there ya go, dear Breth... there's everything wrong with being gay but there's nothing wrong with being homophobic. If that doesn't defy logic, I dunno what does. Remember Matt Shepard?

US vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are set to meet in their only debate, as polling suggests the US election race is tightening. Vice-President Biden and Mr Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, will clash for 90 minutes in Danville, Kentucky. Democrats are hoping to change the narrative after what was widely seen as a poor debate performance by President Barack Obama last week. Mr Obama said on Wednesday he had been "too polite" to his rival, Mitt Romney. What an understatement.

Pity there's so much traffic noise out front. A butcher bird was sitting on my fence happily singing his tunes (of which there are several). I grabbed the little Olympus digital recorder hoping to capture the sound but all I got was cars and trucks. Bleh. Oh well... one of these days. Butcher birds are great mimicks. I've heard them copy the sounds of other birds and even animals. But they also have their own repertoir which is amazingly complex and musically proficient. Maybe over thousands of years of evolution, the sounds they copied became the basis for their own "compositions". I suppose humans have done a similar thing with the evolution of musical instruments.

We had the Vienna Boys Choir here in Oz recently. During a meet and greet session they were introduced to a group of Aborigines in traditional body paint and dress. Guess what fascinated them most? "The man with the big pipe." Yep, the ol' didge. Notice how the player uses cyclic breathing - in through the nose and out through the mouth, simultaneously - so that the sound is continuous... no pausing for breath. The original didgeridoos were logs found in the bush, hollowed by white ants. They needed to be a certain length, thickness, etc., so not every log would make a good didge. I suppose the ones sold to tourists these days are made by machine in China.

Now if you reckon playing the didge is easy, here's a bloke who knows all about the techniques. Fascinating stuff. Maybe I'll meet one of those guys on the Odyssey.

NC Art forward this short story: Wives don't forget old boyfriends...

Husband takes his wife to a disco on the weekend. A guy on the dance floor is living it large - break dancing, moon walking, back flips, the works. The wife turns to her husband and says: "See that guy? 25 years ago he proposed to me and I turned him down." Husband says: "Looks like he's still celebrating."

Looks like the wind is beginning to settle down a bit but for most of the day the tree tops have been doing calisthenics and the wind has been howling. Not the kinda day to be outdoors, Ls and Gs, unless you happen to be aboard a yacht in the Sydney to Hobart race or an Eskimo who's run outta milk. Actually, come to think of it, are there cows up there in Alaska? Where do Eskimos get their milk from? And don't say the corner store.

Speaking of milk, dairy farmers in Oz are going broke because the two main grocery chains, Coles and Woolworths, with about 70% of the market, have been engaged in a milk price war for a year or two, selling homebrand milk at a loss. Consumers are rejecting higher priced branded milk in favor of the cheaper homebrand which basically proves that the average Aussie couldn't give a stuff about his fellow countrymen trying to make a living on the land. I'm alright, Jack, bugger you.

The big supermarket chains are biting the hand that feeds them. If enough dairy farmers are forced out of business, and milk becomes scarce, guess what? Yep, the price of milk will rise, perhaps even skyrocket. And consumers will have no one else to blame but themselves. “Oh what fools these mortals be,” quoth Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Mind you, I just bought a camera from a business operating out of Hong Kong so I shouldn't talk. Traditional retailers in Oz are really feeling the pinch from online retailers, especially those from overseas. This is the brave new world, old chap. Get used to it.

Has the Biden/Ryan thing happened yet? I'm looking forward to Planet America's analysis of the debate tonight on telly. Has there been a President Kelly in the US? I think it's high time there was. How many US presidents have Irish roots? Wanna guess? One, two, three? How many? Are you ready for this? 22. Does that include the current president? Yes it does. Does that include the previous president, George W? Yes it does. And the one before him? Yes it does. Don't believe me?

And what about Mitt Romney? Does he have Irish roots? No. He's a Pom.

Well, I better shut that laughing monkey up and get outta here. It's time for you-know-what. Gary

October 11, 2012. Saw this on an auto newsgroup this morning. Not only is it a novel car, but also a novel way to "paint" it... with corks. Wouldn't you just love to whizz around town in that for a bit of fun?

Speaking of cars, here's a '39 Rolls I've never seen before. It was built just before war broke out in Europe, when automobile production was halted for the duration. It's interesting to contemplate what the evolution of automotive design would have been like had the war not intervened.

Jim M wrote in regards to viewfinders versus LCD screens: I have the same problem with my cam. When outdoors try looking at the screen without your glasses. Also, I think my photo-gray glasses make seeing the screen more difficult. Best of luck! Yep, tried that, Jim. Still no good. Remember those early wild-west photographers who dove under a black sheet to take a pic? Maybe I should try that! Nah, I'll stick with the viewfinder. I find it far superior for accurate framing and panning.

Well, well, well, the last place on Earth I expected oil to be to discovered is the one famous for Guinness and Gnomes: This report from the Beeb: Ireland is on the verge of securing revenue from oil that could run into billions of pounds. Providence Resources Plc, an Irish and UK company, has confirmed its Barryroe site, 30 miles off the Cork coast, should yield 280m barrels of oil. 

I wonder if it's green?

Just watched a couple of vids on Youtube about the Nikon D3100. Both were British. One said the Nikon was selling for 550 pounds in the UK which is about 860AUD. Mine cost 448AUD delivered. However, I'm still pissed off about not being able to use the viewfinder for shooting video. Mind you, shooting video is not the primary purpose of the camera. It's a DSLR which means you're supposed to take award-winning, arty-farty stills.

Anyway, it's cloudy and dreary today, with showers. Admittedly, we need the rain pretty badly. Further south, there are flood warnings and gales. But the sun is due to pop out and warm things up again next Monday which is the day I have in mind for the Forster Tuncurry shoot. I won't use the Nikon for video but I'll take it anyway.

I wrote to the White House the other day after being disappointed with Obama's performance at the the first Presidential debate in Denver. I gave him Ali's advice - dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Thank you for writing.  Based on the content of your message, it appears that your message is intended for the President’s re-election campaign rather than the White House.  If you would like to contact the President’s campaign, you may write to Obama for America, P.O. Box 803638, Chicago, IL, 60680 or the campaign’s questions and comment form is available at  Thank you, again, for writing.

Snail mail will be too slow, and the web site is for American citizens only. So that screws that. Anyway, I'm sure I'm not the only one to stick a rocket up Barack's butt after he allowed Romney to crap all over him. If he doesn't give Romney a pasting next week, I'll scream. Meanwhile, housing sales in the US are up, Barack's "likes" on internet social media are up (from an average 30,000/day to 100,000) but the polls say the gap in the ratings is closing. It's anyone's race, apparently, which means whoever wins, half of America is gonna be pissed off. That's democracy for ya, and that's what we go to war for. I dunno why they don't just scrap everything and put me in charge of the whole damn planet.

BTW, I heard on telly last night - an episode of QI to be precise - that drugs like heroin, cocain and whatever is in ecstasy were legal from the 1880s through to the early 20th century in the UK. You could go into a respectable department store in London and buy a parcel of goodies to send to your son or brother or husband fighting on the battlefields of WW1. Charming.

Anyway, prohibition doesn't work. People have been snorting, ingesting, smoking and chewing things since Eve told Adam that apples were forbidden. It's the nature of the beast. If it's naughty, it's cool.

Time to exit stage left, ladies and genitals, and attend to the usual domestics. Oh yes, and another thing I learned on QI last night... lumber jack is a Canadian term for what they call in Oregon a tree-feller (as opposed to a tree fellow who hugs them). There are no lumber jacks in Oregon. Isn't that a fascinating tid bit of information? I'm off! Gary

October 10, 2012. I just included the Same Sex Marriage vid on the Journal page in the hope that Google's robots will include it in searches and attract a few more views. It hasn't exactly set the world on fire yet. It's not the type of material best suited to what the Odyssey is supposed to represent but... it's my Odyssey.

TX Greg commented on the Red Bubble pic of the Sydney Harbor Bridge yesterday: If you were just looking at the picture of the bridge, then you missed something really neat, the old detailed ornate railing :)

The old railing was precisely the reason I liked the pic, Greg. I'm a great believer in adding something to the foreground of most pics to enhance depth and also to provide the viewer with a sense of scale. And isn't 'ornate' a great word?

Oregon Richie also wrote to say he and Becky are happily settling into married life. They're still measuring anniversaries by the week hehe, so I'd say the novelty hasn't quite worn off yet.

I'll whizz down to the river soon to practice shooting video with the Nikon. Hopefully there are some pelicans there and maybe a fisherman or two to attract them. I'm keen to try shooting action using the screen instead of the viewfinder while keeping the subject in frame, which can be difficult in daylight (if not downright impossible). If I'd known the Nikon couldn't shoot video using the viewfinder, I wouldn't have bought it. With a bit of luck, my cowboy hat will help shade the screen. I've also noticed that the lens hood causes vignetting on the 18mm setting, but it's not too bad. Anyway, practice makes perfect, as they say. I'd go now but Lindsay wants me to wait till Meals on Wheels arrives. The poor little dear is still sleeping.

Well, I've been doing some serious thinking, ladies and genitals. I don't like using the LCD screen for shooting movies. It's too difficult to see detail in bright daylight. I figure the camera is built to appeal to moms and dads who like to shoot stuff of their kids' birthday parties or whatever. Indoors stuff, or out in the backyard, not the kinda stuff I shoot. Also, the setting I was using resulted in files of about 35MB for just a 10 second clip! Whoa! So I wound it back a notch. Fact is, I'm not so sure I wanna shoot in HD anyway. Did anyone find anything wrong with the vid of the Kombi Fest? That was shot in standard 640x480 with the Fuji.

So I've been toying with the idea of putting the whole Nikon shebang back in the box and selling it "as new" for what I paid, which was a pretty good discount price. The only thing that stopped me was that a couple of things are still on their way... spare batteries and a camera bag. So I wrote a question to the guy who operates the camera forum asking if all DSLRs with interchangeable lenses restrict shooting video to using the LCD screen. If that's the case, I might as well keep the Nikon. It's probably the only DSLR I'll ever need, even if I do buy an extra lens or two in the future. Meanwhile, I could continue to use the Fuji for shooting vids. Whaddaya reckon?

I'm also thinking that this obsession with shooting vids I have at the mo might fade after a while. Not everything is good subject material for a video, and good quality stills still have a legitimate place on this site (as well as Red Bubble, calendars, prints, postcards, albums etc). Decisions, decisions.

Just back from a little shopping where I parked next to the Ute's slightly younger sibling. Mine's a '93 and the sibling is somewhere between '96 and '99.

A week ago I watched a show on telly about homeless peeps in Sydney featuring Poh as the chef who improved their free meals. Last night, she accompanied a group of wild young ladies taken on one of those wilderness camps for young offenders by a strict but fair guide. There was lots of hiking with backpacks, sleeping under canvas in the never-never, cursing and swearing, spitting the dummy, abseiling and various other tasks all designed to teach the girls self-respect, team spirit, trust and self-reliance. Poh was there to take care of the grub and to occasionally give the girls a bit of friendly encouragement. On the seventh day, the group walked to a steep ridge which they climbed (with their 20kg backpacks), a total of 18.5 kilometers from their previous camp. When they reached the summit, they witnessed one of the most spectacular views over the Flinders Ranges I've ever seen. It was breathtaking. Before the climb, the girls were asked to pick up a small stone and carry it. "That stone represents all your troubles," said the guide. At the summit, they were asked to place the stone somewhere on a rock. "Now that's where you're going to leave your troubles," said the guide.

The girls were left for an hour or two just to sit alone in silence and admire the view, while they contemplated their wilderness experience as well as their lives back home, and where they would like to make changes for the future. Not one of the girls had a negative thing to say. Those seven days in the bush had had a profound effect on them. And they thought Poh's food was pretty good as well. Her menu had encouraged them to eat more nutritious food than they were used to at home. No more packaged and processed junk.

When they reached a designated spot back on level ground, a bus arrived to take them home. They were all cheerful and happy, albeit smelly. "The bus stinks," Poh laughed. "They haven't showered for a week!" BTW, that linked pic of the Flinders is from the web... not the show.

And here we are again, after a day of soul searching about the Nikon... where it's time to look in the fridge for something packaged and processed hehe, and retire to the "soft" chair for a bit of telly. Gary

October 9, 2012. Who's the dummy who looked up the Nikon User Manual to figure out how to attach the neck strap to the eyelets? Nikon must think it's so simple and obvious that it doesn't need illustrating or explanation. Hehe. Oh well... So I bit the bullet and gave it a shot. Not sure if I've done it properly but it seems to work okay. 

I also tried the lens hood from the Fuji accessories and it works fine. So do the other attachments; the filters and the macro and tele adapters. The macro/wide-angle almost gives the 18mm setting a 180 degree view! Not quite, but getting close. It should work really well on wide shots of mountains, valleys, city scapes, beaches, etc... and even compact interiors such as the camper.

BTW, I favorited a couple more pics on Red Bubble... this one of the old Coathanger which I think is rather novel, and this one of a train leaving Museum railway station in Sydney.

Back from the local electronics store where I asked the young bloke about the Nikon charger and the power adapter. I was prepared to buy another adapter but he (as I suspected he might) managed to fit the two together. It took a bit of pressure, which was something I wasn't prepared to do in case I bent or broke something. Hehe. So there ya go, all is well in the Nikon department. The User Manual in Japanese, by the way, is a minor downside of buying an imported product. The upside of that is that I saved a bundle... and no import duty. The CD User Manual is in English so no worries. I'm all set to go... almost... still waiting on the 16GB memory cards to arrive.

Incidentally, I used the money I received from the sale of the Remington shaver to buy a Nikon camera bag... 3 main compartments and lots of pockets.

Oh no!!! The menu is in Japanese! Oh... it's also in Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Swahili and whatever else. Silly me pressed the up and down buttons on Language instead of the right button. Now it's in English. Whew! Had me worried there for a minute. Have you ever watched one of those demo vids on Youtube? They scroll through stuff at a million miles and hour and press buttons furiously so that you have no idea what the hell they're doing. BTW, the battery charges from scratch to fully charged in just 90 minutes, which is much faster than the rechargable AAs. They take all day or overnight.

Remember when the postie blew his whistle to let you know he was coming? These days, he rides a little 90cc motorbike with squeaky brakes. Serves the same purpose... and sure enough, my two memory cards were in the mail box. One thing you notice about this camera is how well everything is made. All the little compartment doors open and snap-close with wonderful precision. If this "entry-level" Nikon is designed to impress a newbie sufficiently to get him to stick with Nikon cameras and lenses for life, it works for me!

So now I have no reason to postpone Forster Tuncurry any longer (except for weather). However, the Nikon is a whole new ballgame compared to my other cameras. For starters, it seems I can't shoot movies using the viewfinder, which I prefer to use because the monitor in daylight can be difficult to see. Dammit. Also, using the monitor (Live View) chews up the battery. So I'm going to have to practice shooting stuff down by the river to make sure I know what I'm doing before I head out to Forster Tuncurry. 

The limit to one uninterrupted scene is 10 minutes (the electronics get hot). Not a prob. There's no way I shoot scenes that long anyway (unless it's an unusual circumstance like an interview). I'm an editing man, and I shoot short scenes to maintain an interesting pace. In many ways, this camera is for dummies; peeps new to SLR photography. You can select 'Guide' and it'll ask you what kinda photo you wanna take, and then take you through a step-by-step procedure to recommend various manual settings to achieve the best result (rather than always relying on 'auto'). I thought it was gonna be a piece of cake; a 5 minute learning curve. Hehe. Yeah, right. So I better just accept the fact that I got me another fancy gizmo to learn properly and to be patient. Trouble is, after about an hour or so of reading manuals or forums, I get fidgety.

So there ya go, another day spent learning and cursing and learning and cursing, with the result that it's time to get my sore bum off the chair and onto something softer. I've lost so much weight, I've no longer got any natural padding. Eat more? Yeah, I know. But it ain't easy. Gary

October 8, 2012. Another Mondee. I watched a program last night on telly about Oz and how transport plays such a crucial role in Aussies commuting between towns and cities sprawled across this wide brown land, and in particular the daily commute to their work place. What a mess! I used to be part of it but, thankfully, not any more. One statistic I found interesting was that Sydney CBD only has about 100,000 residents, but about a million commuters descend on the city every weekday. That really puts a strain on the public transport system and the road network.

And that begs the question; how much does it cost to send a million people to and from work every day?

I meant to mention yesterday that I've had to delete more spam from the guestbook lately. What a pain. If it becomes too much of a prob, I'll flick the guestbook altogether. Isn't it a shame that some people just can't help inflicting their crap on others. That's the problem I have with religion. It believes it's doing everyone a favor by "spreading the word". Advertising is the same these days... aggressive and "in your face". I don't watch commercial telly or listen to commercial radio any more.

TX Greg commented on the Same Sex Marriage video: That has to be the best most important vid you've done yet :)

Thanks, Greg. That's what you get from an old advertising writer. An agency would have charged $50,000 to put that together. Each strategy depends on the individual task at hand, but I figure in this case it's better to simply state the case for inevitability rather than get bogged down in complicated arguments. Use the opposition's negativity to mock its own cause. I think that last image wraps up my case perfectly. 

Loved the pic of the flat Earth. Reminded me of a funny old Bugs Bunny cartoon about that...

It'll be interesting to see what comments the vid attracts on Youtube. There's only one so far..."Great video, well done". But I suspect not all comments will be so civil and complimentary hehe. My main aim in making that vid was to warn opponents of same sex marriage that they're destined to go down on the wrong side of history by pursuing their cause. BTW, did you notice how the subject matter of the vid attracted advertising?

Yesterday, at Bathurst in NSW, Oz, the 50th anniversary of Australia's most famous production car race was held, the Bathurst 1000. When it first started back in '62, just about everything was racing around the track; VWs, Minis, Cortinas, Holdens, Valiants, etc. But in more recent years it's been a battle between the big V8s, Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. Yesterday, Holden won by a wart, crossing the line with only fumes left in the tank. Imagine that... after 1000 kilometers driving flat out, only half a second separated the two leaders. Hehe. I believe next year the race will include Jaguar and Nissan. 

Can you read Japanese? Neither can I. So I ask you, what good to me is a User Manual for the Nikon D3100 written in Japanese? I just emailed the seller and asked the same question. Otherwise, the rest of the package seems fine, unless, of course, I discover that it makes portraits of Aussies look Asian. The User Manual on CD is in English, luckily. But the battery charger has the wrong pins for an Australian power point. There's a 250V adapter included but the pins at the back of the charger don't seem to fit the adapter. ??? So I emailed the seller about that as well. Meanwhile, I can't charge the battery. Oh well... I'm sure I'll manage to sort out the probs. Got the car but no petrol.

The camera does look and feel good, though. Very nice to the touch. And there's a stack of How To vids on Youtube. The lens looks a bit stubby in that pic but it's actually quite long. Now I've gotta remember to use the selector ring to choose between 18 and 55mm rather than the zoom button on the fixed-lens cameras I already have. Pretty cool, huh? Now I'm a Nikon man!

Well, 'tis the close of another Waffle. I felt like a meat pie tonight so on the way home from shopping I nicked into the patisserie - best pies in Taree. Meanwhile, I hope I can sort out the charger prob soon. I'm itching to do a shoot of Forster Tuncurry. Oh! I forgot to mention... we're on daylight saving time now... up with the birdies and still daylight in the evenings. Gary

October 7, 2012. Why have I got a sore bum, ladies and genitals? I'll tell you why. Because I've been sitting on this damn chair for waaaaay too long putting videos together. When I woke this morning, I decided against posting the one about smokers caught up in the war between government and tobacco companies. I'm not sure my Youtube channel should be getting polly tickle. So then I decided to make another vid about same sex marriage. This time I did post it. It's only a shortie - 2.5 minutes. But it makes comparisons with previous resistance movements over the centuries to issues of equal rights, and points to the inevitability of same sex marriage. You can check it out here.

It was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first hit recently, and here's an interesting article on the Beeb about the influence those guys had on music both then and now. And not only in Britain. Jeez... fancy that. I was 18.

NC Art wrote: G'day Mate,
    Forward illustrates language usage...for better or wuss! (Why athletes can't have proper jobs...)
    And about my figure of speech re the boy scout, all it was, was a figure
of speech.

Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann: "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes."

Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach: "You guys line up alphabetically by height. And, "You guys pair up in groups of three, and then line up in a circle."

Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson going to prison: "Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, ....not Princeton ."

Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: "That's so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes."

Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regimen of heavyweight Andrew Golota: "He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning, regardless of what time it is."

Chuck Nevitt , North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt." 

In the words of NC State great Charles Shackelford: "I can go to my left or right, I am amphibious."

Former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips when asked by Bob Costas why he takes his wife on all the road trips, Phillips responded: "Because she's too damn ugly to kiss good-bye."

I just watched a Youtube vid about the Nikon D3100. The bloke talked at a million miles an hour, flicking switches and pressing buttons, but he's very happy with it. Interestingly, he uses it almost exclusively for shooting video and says the picture quality is excellent. The only downside is the lack of an input to connect an external microphone. He may consider it a prob but I don't... at least not at this stage. He was most impressed with the egonomics and the positioning of all the controls. Fitted with the kit lens, it weighs about half a kilo (a pound). The standard 18-55mm lens is adequate but, as he says, most people will choose to upgrade. All in all, a great camera. Can you imagine what one of those things looks like inside compared to the inside of a Box Brownie? The electronics must be mind boggling.

Well, this video-making gig takes up quite a bit of time, so the day went that-a-way. It's an interesting way to make a point, though, and probably worth the effort if you feel strongly enough about an issue. But, for me, making a point is not always the point of making a video. Most of the time I just wanna have fun. So when will the Nikon arrive? Not sure. It's coming all the way from Hong Kong or Taiwan by standard post, so maybe next week with a bit of luck. Then I'll whizz out to Forster Tuncurry for a bit of rootin' tootin' shootin'. Gary

October 6, 2012. Satdee again. SF Bill wrote with this link to an amazing dog who surfs, skis and skateboards.

NC Art sent this link to a plea by the mother of a boy scout who has been refused his Eagle Award because he's gay. This situation seems unfair to the kid who busted his butt for 12 years to become an Eagle Scout.... Not sure if "busted his butt" is an appropriate phrase to use under the circumstances, Art. Hehe. You can sign the petition here to have the decision reversed.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking lately about the ongoing battles between government and the tobacco companies and those caught in the middle... the smokers who have been reclassed as misfits and losers. So today I finally downloaded a bunch of images from the web and went about turning it into a short fillum. Now I have to decide whether or not to post it on Youtube. It's bound to be controversial, and attract all kinds of nasty comments. I'm not advocating smoking tobacco... I just feel for the people caught up in the middle of the war... the victims referred to as 'collateral damage'.

I'm tempted to post it now but I suppose I better wait till morning to decide... after I've had a chance to "sleep on it".

From the Beeb: The Vatican court trying Pope Benedict's former butler on charges of stealing confidential papers is expected to deliver its verdict later. The Vatican court? Oh dear...

Last night on Planet America, the consensus as to who won the first Presidential debate in Denver was that Romney won by default because he was on the attack, despite not saying anything noteworthy. Obama, on the other hand, played it cool... too cool. One commentator said that Obama can't even stand to look at Romney, which explains why Obama spent so much time looking at the floor. Another commentator pointed out that Reagan lost the first debate but went on to win the second, and then succeeded in becoming President. Anyway, we ain't seen nuthin' yet, according to the sooth sayers. Hehe. 

Meantime, there's been a drop in the US jobless rate, which came as a pleasant surprise...and not necessarily to the Repubs.

Well, the smokers vid took up most of the day, ladies and genitals, so that's all the Waffle I have for you at this time going forward. <--- Politician speak. BTW, did I say we had 31C yesterday? Wrong! It was 35. But it dropped 11 degrees today. The current weather is all over the place... up and down like a bride's nightie. Gary

October 5, 2012. I've been having an interesting time on a Nikon D3100 forum. The bloke who runs it had to open a separate forum page for members because of the volume of inquiries. Seems like the 3100 is a very popular camera... entry level or not. I had a few questions about memory cards and lens suitability which have all been answered by queries from other forum members. Other brands like Sigma and Tamron offer very good value for their Nikon-friendly products. But they ain't cheap! A good 18-200mm zoom costs about as much as the camera body itself! By the same token, you don't have to buy one every week. A good lens will last many years.

Different lenses have different uses. Am I seriously into portraiture? Not really. Wildlife? Not really. Sports? Not really. Landscape? Hmmm... yeah... ish. I guess an all-rounder like the 18-200 suits my current style but even that will have to wait. The kit lens will suffice for the time being, together with the wide and tele adaptors. If I need a long zoom to shoot surfers or whatever, I can use the smaller Fuji. Anyway, those forums are great for newbies like myself who are keen to learn as much as they can.

As to the two 16GB memory cards I bought, each one can hold an hour of HD video or 1000 photos. Hello? And I've got two of them.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has accused Mitt Romney of being dishonest, after a televised debate that most observers agreed his Republican rival won. Speaking in Denver, Colorado, Mr Obama urged his rival to tell the "truth" about his own policies. A total of 67.2 million people watched Wednesday's debate, the Nielsen TV ratings service announced. The Obama campaign has said there will be some "adjustments" in strategy before the election on 6 November. A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Thursday suggested Mr Romney had a net positive rating for the first time in the presidential campaign. The poll said 51% of voters viewed him positively, with Mr Obama at 56%. The Republican moved ahead of the president on which candidate voters trust to handle the economy, create jobs and manage the deficit.

So what was all that hand-shaking, big-smiles bullshit when the two greeted each other at the start of the debate? Surely nobody believes those two guys are the best of pals. Surely they can be civil without being all over each other like a rash, pretending they don't hate each other's guts. If I were Obama's adviser I'd tell him to get mad and all fired up. Spare no punches. The voters want a brawl not a polite conversation over tea and scones. Who the hell's gonna vote for Mr Nice Guy?

Anyway, I suspect Obama has already been told to toughen up by his team after his dismal first effort. Dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Stay tooned for Round 2.

Veteran peace campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been awarded $1m (£620,000) by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for "speaking truth to power". The London-based Foundation called the cleric "one of Africa's great voices for justice, freedom, democracy and responsible, responsive government". He won the Nobel Peace Prize - and 10m Swedish Krona (£935,000) - in 1984 for his campaign against apartheid. Archbishop Tutu responded by thanking his wife, Leah, for her guidance. 

I'm not a religious man, as you know, but I have great respect for Desmond. His heart is in the right place, and that's what matters most. And he's a giggler. Hehe. What a refreshing change from the normal pomposity of clerical hierarchy.

31C again today, and another lazy one. Apart from a bit of forum spotting and downloading a bit more music by Longzijun I really haven't done much. The forecast for tomorow is 24 and cloudy so maybe I'll feel more inclined to get off my skinny old butt. Actually, I was just thinking about shooting some stock footage of surfing... stuff I can use for inclusion in other vids. Not everything I shoot needs to be a particular story. When I put the Driving Around Taree video together I used a fair bit of stuff I'd shot previously over the years.

Anyway, time to fade to black again. Planet America is on telly tonight so I guess that will include a post mortem on the recent Presidential Debate and any change in the polls. I guess for most Americans, November can't come quickly enough. Gary

October 4, 2012. $40m up for grabs in tonight's jackpot Powerball. You'd think they'd call it Powerballs cos there's more than one. But if there were only one, I'd win every week. In any case, I've got a $5 ticket and a 1 in 97 billion chance of winning a prize. If I remember correctly, that's what my mother said when I popped out.

Two months away from summer but we're in for 31C today anyway. Yesterday was 26 which was pretty good. The nights and mornings are still a bit fresh but that's okay. I like being all snuggly and cozy under the covers.

TX Greg reckons shooting video in HD and saving it to "standard definition" won't make any discernable difference to the stuff I upload to Youtube. I figure that means the only benefit from shooting in HD will be making DVD copies of the original but only if I save two copies, one in HD and another (for use on the web) in standard. There's a possibility I might be able to sell DVDs of the stuff I do but I'm not holding my breath.

Greg also suggested I get the bloke who does the camper tour video to include a personal demo of the operation of the outdoor shower. Tsk, tsk. What was it Mark said to Cody one time? "The only reason I can take you somewhere a second time is to apologize for the first time."

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are making final preparations for the first of three crucial presidential debates. With just 34 days to go until election day, Wednesday's Denver debate will focus on domestic policy issues. I heard on Planet America that both candidates rehearse the debate several times well in advance, in replica studios with actors playing their respective opponent. The idea is that the rehearsals are so close to the real thing that nothing will come as a surprise when the real debates occur.

Six people on board a vintage biplane that went missing in Australia have been confirmed dead, after wreckage was found in southeastern Queensland. A rescue helicopter spotted the red De Havilland Dragon DH-84 - believed to be only one of four such planes in the world - in a dense forest on Wednesday. Not only a tragic loss of life but also of a wonderful old aircraft. It slammed into a hill after encountering bad weather and sending out a distress call.

While shaving in the bathroom, I heard a radio report that Romney did well in the first debate in Denver. He was alert, confident and used humor to great effect. By comparison, Obama was nervous to begin with and rather flat. That surprised me. I thought it would be the other way around. Historically, debates don't make or break elections but in such a close race, any difference could make the difference. Anyway, it seems Obama had better lift his game if he wants to call the White House home for another 4 years. You can read Mark Mardell's analysis here on the Beeb.

My older bro finally got around to checking out the Chevies vid: Thanks for sending me your movie of all the veteran & vintage Chevs. It was a real treat to see them. You've always had a skill for creating good pictures ....well done.

This month, I wanna do something special with the Forster Tuncurry vid. Dunno what exactly... maybe the reflections of the cruisers at anchor in the water, or the pelicans. Those guys are quite comical when they gather around a fisherman scaling and fileting his catch. There'll be the obligatory beach scenes, of course, and maybe a bit of gawk material hehe... depending on who's there and what they're doing. But there needs to be more than just the usual touristy postcard scenes... the sunrises and sunsets, the smiling couples dining al fresco or in some fancy restaurant, the paid extras walking along the promenade holding hands. Bleh. I prefer more candid stuff, like some kid stuffing his face with a hot dog. Even better would be a hobo rummaging around in a trash bin. Hehe.

And in mid November, I'll be in Sydney taking shots of the Pacific Princess docked at the Overseas Terminal. Hopefully, the weather will be perfect. I've already got a headful of angles and vantage points, some on land and some aboard a ferry. Hopefully, I'll have enough time to shoot Darling Harbor as well, and a few other places I missed last time. Sydney has soooooo much to see! But the main focus this time will be the P&O ship and the Harbor.

I remember being at a shoot on a golf course in Melbourne. Greg Norman and my ex-biz partner were aboard the same golf cart having a convo, so Willie Brewer, the cameraman (and a funny Irishman), jumped on the back of the cart without asking, and filmed the convo. It was great candid stuff, and Willie recognized the opportunity without needing any direction from the director. That's the kinda thing I like to do... take advantage of situations that arise unexpectedly and, more importantly, keep a sharp eye out for anything that looks promising.

However, today hasn't produced much. I've been a bit slack and mentally uninspired. My regular emailers have been a bit slack as well. Oh well, that's what cookies do sometimes. So it's on with chef's hat and on with the telly. And if the Lotto bloke phones tonight and says, "Congratulations, Mr Kelly..." I'll tell him to ring back in the morning cos I'm buggered. Gary

October 3, 2012. 8:45am and I'm sitting here in my "office" in front of the Toshiba as usual. So why am I not on a train traveling into the city or on a bus or taking an elevator or placing my briefcase at the side of a desk? Because, ladies and genitals, I'm retired. It's Wednesday but it might as well be Saturday or Sunday. They're all the same to me.

However, I'm not the type to be sitting around doing nothing, or playing golf or bowls with the geriatric club. I probably "work" longer hours now than I did when I had a proper job. And it's not all that much different. Instead of blabbing on air, I blab on Waffle. Instead of writing ads or producing corporate vids, I produce vids of other things. And the boss and I get along just fine.

I was about 5 y/o when I messed my pants in the school yard and ran all the way home. We had an outdoor loo in the backyard in those days so I snuck down the side path and sat in the loo without telling my mother. However, I felt guilty about missing school and figured I'd better make up for it by reciting nursery rhymes. Mom heard me, changed my clothes and sent me packing back to school. So nothing's changed. I still get the guilts about wasting time doing nothing.

If all this digital technology had been available back in the '80s, I could have converted a room in my little house in Glebe to a sound studio, bought a video camera, some lights, a powerful computer and editing software and operated my own video/audio production suite with me as "the bloke in charge of everything". If I had, I could have avoided getting mixed up with all those dingalings responsible for my undoing. But, alas, that's not the way it happened.

Is it too late? Yeah... kinda. I'm not interested in doing corporate vids or writing ads any more. But if the Kombi Club or The Vintage & Veteran Chevrolet Association had asked me to video their shows for a couple of grand, I would have been delighted to oblige. Meanwhile, I'll do it for nothing just to gain more experience and promote Fossil Fillums. Besides, I enjoy it.

So ya never know. One of these days, after lots more vids and being on the road, I might get an offer or two to produce something. If not, dozen madder. Ditto sponsorship. I'll just keep doing my thing and if it attracts a bit of icing on the cake, fine. I ain't gonna chase it.

One thing I've realized after running my own web site and producing my own vids, etc, is just how much bullshit exists in professional media. The business is full of so-called experts who charge like wounded bulls. Experts schmexperts. They're fulla shit. They convince others that nobody can do the job quite like they can. Yeah? Nobody is indispensable, as one boss said to me when he fired me. Hehe. And he was right. But the trigger for me about a dozen years ago was relying on a bloke who offered to webmaster my old web site. He kept messing things up or being late or whatever. So I eventually got jack of his crap and decided to learn webmastering myself. It was daunting at first because I had little faith in my ability. Silly me. 

Mind you, TX Greg has helped me quite a bit with technical issues over the years, particularly with Codysworld. But he's not a Prima Donna. He knows his stuff but he doesn't carry on like Mr Know-It-All, and he's happy to help out. Meanwhile, I'm happy to learn from my mistakes. I don't fear them like I used to. When I make a boo-boo, I learn something. And the more I learn the better I get.

On Red Bubble, I'm surrounded by photographers who are far more talented and technically more proficient than I. But I've learned that for the vast majority of the 'great unwashed', there's no discernible difference between technically or artistically superior and technically or artistically adequate hehe. Stan the Lawn Man's wife Sue said to me yesterday, "Your calendars are really good. I save them and then frame some of the photos. Are you doing another one this year?" So there ya go.

Guess who spent another $20? Oh well... But it was a good buy... 2 x Sandisk high-speed 16GB memory cards. I've also been reading a few reviews of the Nikon D3100. They keep calling it an entry-level DSLR which pisses me off a bit but it's nonetheless bristling with good features and gets consistently good reviews. The kit lens it comes with is nothing spectacular but does the job well enough. Fine with me. Better or extra lenses can wait. In any case, I have the attachments mentioned yesterday that will add more capability to the existing lens. I noticed one major discount store in Oz selling the same camera and kit lens for $700 so I've done well.

Now here's a tricky bit of gear. I love lemon sorbet, and always have. I could eat a mountain of the stuff. At the supermarket, I noticed a product called Always Fresh, Italian Sorbetto. It was on the shelf, no refrigeration, and has a long shelf life. When you're ready for a tasty treat, you freeze it for 4 hours, then let it stand at room temp for about 10 minutes until it softens. Fluff it up with a fork and dig in. Yum. But the great thing is I can carry it in the camper un-refrigerated until I'm camped with the fridge running. Boom, boom. I don't intend to buy frozen stuff on the move.

From the Beeb: A Chinese-owned firm in the US is suing President Barack Obama after he blocked a wind farm deal on national security grounds. Ralls Corp, a private firm, acquired four wind farm projects near a US naval facility in Oregon earlier this year. Mr Obama signed the order blocking the deal last week. The lawsuit alleges the US government overstepped its authority. It is the first foreign investment to be blocked in the US for 22 years. Stay tooned.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral cover in the past 27 years, a new study shows. Researchers analysed data on the condition of 217 individual reefs that make up the World Heritage Site. The results show that coral cover declined from 28.0% to 13.8% between 1985 and 2012. They attribute the decline to storms, a coral-feeding starfish and bleaching linked to climate change. Yes, I watched that story last night on telly. I dunno what the experts can do about it but they've gotta come up with something fast. Get rid of those damn starfish for starters.

Authorities are investigating how a farmer in the US state of Oregon was devoured by his pigs. Terry Vance Garner, 69, went to feed his animals last Wednesday on his farm by the coast, but never returned. His dentures and pieces of his body were found by a family member in the pig enclosure, but the rest of his remains had been consumed. I know what you're thinking. Nobody complains when it's the other way around.

How do you call the Presidential election? Who's gonna win? Try this BBC clickable state-by-state graph with your predictions and then compare the result with those of the experts. I haven't tried it cos I'm not familiar enough with each swing state's electoral background or potential to go either way. However, if I were to take a stab at the overall result, I'd go for Obama.

And here we are again, five o'clock-ish. I was thinking about doing a vid of the camper exterior and interior but the light was all wrong... too much afternoon sun streaming through the door and window. Anyway, it's better to wait till I'm on the road with everything ship shape. One of these days, I'll find a likely candidate to host a personal tour of the camper, with me as the cameraman and him as the tour presenter. Hehe. "Where's your shirt?" "I didn't bring one. Does it matter?" "No." "I could borrow one of yours." "Don't worry about the damn shirt. Forget I mentioned it. Shirtless is fine." "Are you sure?" "I'm positive. Now shuddup about the shirt and just do the tour commentary." "But what'll I say?" "Whatever comes into your head. Just open cupboards and drawers and tell the camera what you see in there. Sit on cushions, bounce on the bed. Switch the switches and say what they're for." "Sounds boring." "It won't be boring, trust me."

There I go again... the ol' imagination is working overtime. However, for the moment, I have other things to attend to, like Eddy's chicken rissoles with vegies smothered in chicken gravy, and then a bit of telly gazing. Isn't life interesting? Gary

October 2, 2012. Another lovely spring day! TX Greg got a kick outta that woman with the laugh at the Kombi Fest: HAHAhahaha, I caught the double dub of her :) I didn't know the front windshield opened on some of those. Bet that makes for a good breeze going down the road. So why didn't you get inside of one those balls in the pool??? HAHAhahaha

It was during the mid-fifties that my dad brought one of those split-screen Kombis home for a test drive. He didn't like the way the rear engine prevented a flat floor all the way from the rear hatch. He ended up getting a DREARY Austin instead. I think those old Kombis are magic, especially those with all the windows along the sides. My Kombi was the later single-screen model, a yellow '73 with a pop-top. As to those balls in the pool... er, yeah... I think I'm a tad too old for the energy requirements. As a kid, though, I would've been right into those and all the other boing-boing and round-a-bout things.

And the good breeze going down the road with the windows open? I can picture the passenger in the back seat trying to read the Sydney Morning Herald with it stuck to his face like cling wrap.

Greg also comments on the Nikon: That new cam is gonna be really sweet. So does this one have a "GAWK" setting, hehe Yes, it does actually. I checked. I also discovered that all my accessories for the Fuji will fit the Nikon without the need for an adapter. They're all 52mm. There's about $300 worth of stuff including a .45x wide-angle/macro attachment, a 2.5x telephoto attachment and a series of various filters. So that'll give the 18 - 55mm lens a bit of extra oomph. 

I also checked on the prices of additional lenses for Nikon. The 18 - 300 zoom is worth a fortune but the 55 - 300 (or 200) is much more affordable. Having 2 lenses - an 18 - 55 and a 55 - 300 - means changing over when going from landscape or portrait to telephoto but it's cheaper. The all-in-one zooms are well over a grand each. That's the thing about these DSLRs with interchangeable lenses... you can add different lenses to your collection while keeping the same body... or sell the body and buy an upgrade without having to sell the lenses. I can't wait to try the wide/macro attachment which theoretically should make the current lens capable of 8-10mm. I could shoot a pano with only one shot!

Yep, the Nikon should open a bunch of new photographic possibilities and, with few exceptions, should be the only camera I use. I've always fancied a Nikon even though I'm not a brand-name junkie.

From the Beeb: California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a ban on therapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight. When the law comes into effect on 1 January, the Golden State will become the first to outlaw the practice for people under the age of 18. Personally, I believe all people should be the same. Intelligent people should have their IQs brought back to normal. Good looking people should be made to look average. Talented athletes, actors, singers, etc, should have their superior abilities curtailed. Equality... that's what we want. Same, same, same, same. God didn't make 57 Adams all different. He made ONE! Oh... and of course, people like Francois should be made to write/speak proper English.

Hungary's government has announced a ban on slot machines in pubs and cafes in an effort to clamp down on gambling. New laws put forward by the prime minister's office bans slot machines outside of regulated casinos. The government believes Hungarians, particularly poor Hungarians, spend too much of their income on slot machines. Australia is trying to limit the maximum slot machine bet to a dollar per game to stop problem gamblers. It's a bit like driving in heavy traffic... everyone's speed is governed by the nervous Nelly in front who's content to drive well under the limit. It's all about "Nanny Government", bureaucrats treating all citizens like dummies to protect those who can't exercise proper control over their actions.

Firefighters were called out to rescue a man whose head was stuck in a public litter bin in Aberdeen. How embarrassing! Check out the pic.

NC Art sent this link to a Borowitz Report about the upcoming Debate Preview: Debate Could Test Two Romney Weaknesses: Talking and Thinking

I shoulda been a camera technician. Coupla gentle bangs and the Fuji came good hehe. Now, do I keep it as a spare or sell it? Good question. It's not worth much even though it's a good camera that does a pretty good job. I think I'll keep it. One of the things I like about the Fujis is that they use AA batteries which means you're never without a power source. So I reckon I'm pretty right in the camera department for a while. Maybe another lens or two but that's it. The fiscal focus is now back on getting a flat tray ute.

Er... except for splurging another $18 on 2 x spare rechargable li-ion batteries for the Nikon from China. By the way, I just remembered what my first SLR camera was waaaaaay back to when I can't even remember. It was a Russian Practika. I wonder what the hell I did with that thing? Maybe I sold it. Can't remember. Was I me back then? Can't remember that either.

Anyway, I'm a very happy chappy now with my new toy (as well as the older one working again). My first video project with the Nikon will be Forster Tuncurry in a few weeks. The two towns are neighbors separated by a bridge over a lake. Back in the 50s and 60s it was a family holiday destination with lots of ramshackle beach shacks and camping parks. Not now, baby. It's a mini Gold Coast. Clinker-built dinghys have given way to million-dollar cruisers. Nonetheless, the locals still wear flip-flops and say 'she'll be right, mate, no worries'.

Well, haven't done much today... had a bit of a break from all that Cecil B stuff. Sat in the camper for a while saying neh neh neh neh neeeh neh to all the bugs on the other side of the insect screens hehe. Chatted to Averil for a bit and gave her DVD copies of the Villages, Chevies and Kombis vids. Buggerized around with Waffle for a bit. Uploaded the Kombis pic to Red Bubble and called it, "Jeepers, Creepers, Dontcha Love Those Peepers..." But other than that, I've been a slack arse. Fish tonight... the Thai spicy one that plays havoc with my sensitive tongue which is still recovering from the radiation and god knows what else. Then a bit of telly and blah blah blah. So that's it. Time to bid thee farewell, dear Breth, until the morrow brings its... well, whatever it brings. Gary

October 1, 2012.  Welcome to a new month! Not that you have any choice in the matter. Shortly, I'll get stuck into editing the Kombi Fest. Later this month, I'll shoot a vid of Forster Tuncurry which is a sort of mini Gold Coast about half an hour's drive away... lots of beaches and lakes, and oodles of expensive boats. I checked the events calendar and there's not much happening unless you're into baking cakes or learning ballet.

TX Greg wrote to say he is indeed a rev head and has been dealing with the "problem" for many years now. You were very close, it was the pic you had of the Camaro, mine is an '81 Z28. I just found the original TV ad for it. Not only does this make me feel old, the ad and music reminds me of old 70's porn flicks, hehe. '81's going back a bit (although it doesn't seem like it). I think I was driving a '73 Valiant back then. Goodness me, how times change.

The larger Fuji is still refusing to loosen the stuck zoom which means the camera can't be operated properly. Last time, I left it alone for a week or two and it came good for no apparent reason. Whether or not it happens again is anyone's guess. BUT I spotted the same model on eBay yesterday in working condition. The highest bid was less than $10 with a day and a bit to go. If I can buy it for 20 or 30 dollars, it would be cheaper than having mine repaired (which is highly unlikely anyway), and maybe mine will come good again one of these days. Meanwhile, I'll have a spare while I save enough to buy a decent Nikon or Canon in the future. I'm not into chasing technology or having the latest and greatest, so something about 12+MP and robust, with panorama, HD movie and 12+ zoom modes will do the trick. I reckon 5 or 6 hundred will buy a goodie.

Well, well, well, clever little me is getting even cleverer. I finished editing the Kombi vid in about 4 hours with music and the whole shebang, and it scrubbed up much better than I thought it would. A static display of Kombis doesn't sound like the kind of thing that would fill 10 minutes with lots of thrills and compelling interest and, you're right, it doesn't hehe. But it's quite amusing and entertaining nonetheless. I kept the edits short to keep the pace moving along pretty smartly, and used a few tricky animations to keep it lively.

It's in the process of uploading to Youtube now. Yes, it's a buzz when things work out better than you expected. I'm also improving at thinking like an editor when I'm shooting. Funny word, shooting... I keep thinking Cody thoughts every time I use it. I can imagine his hehehehes if he were here now. Mind you, TX Greg is just as bad... if not worse. So how's the upload going? 82%. Okay, not much longer. She's up! Check out the vid here.

I just checked eBay to see how that used Fuji S7000 is doing. Up to $41 now with 29 hours to go. BUT I saw an ad for a Nikon, brand new, 52% off in Hong Kong. Should I or shouldn't I? $450 is a lotta money. Then again, for a brand new Nikon it's cheap as chips, even for an entry level model. The body alone sells for more than that in Oz. Hmmm. Thinking, thinking. It's got all the gizmons I need. Only one lens, 18 - 55mm, but that's okay. I can always get another 50 - 300mm or whatever at some future point. Whaddaya reckon? Should I or shouldn't I? Promise you won't get mad at me? Okay... I'll do it.

Think of it this way. I sold my old Sony recently for almost 100, so that brings the price down to $360. And if my old Fuji comes good, I'll sell that too before it goes bung again so that'll bring the price down maybe another 50 to about $300. It it looking good or what? And the Remington electric razor? I've used it once. Gimme a blade any day. So that'll get the flick as well. I think the Nikon is a pretty good investment really... they've got a great rep for toughness and longevity. Anyway, the deal is done. I'm now a Nikon man.

Meanwhile, it's time for all that cooking and telly business, and a bit of relaxation after a busy day. Enjoy the Kombis! Gary


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