the WAFFLE page

December 31, 2012. And the last Waffle for the year! BTW, it wasn't a TR3 that Oregon Richie owned, it was a Triumph Spitfire. He said it did a lot more spitting than firing hehe. 

I've never owned a sports car, although I did own a VW 1600 Fastback in 1966, which was kinda sporty-ish. Actually, it was the finance company that owned it and I had to return it after 6 months. Lost my job as a disco DJ and went back to being a clerk in a government dept. I was flush with funds again and bought a 1967 Beetle. Then I got into radio. "There's no need to be nervous, Gary... there are only 30,000 people out there listening to you." That little Beetle could fly and I had it for 4 years.

I think I'm up to speed with amps and solar and AGMs now. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating but at least I'm prepared. I also discovered that a 150 a/h AGM weighs about 40kgs. Two of those to give you 300 a/h will weigh 80kgs (176 pounds) and cost about $700. That's a fair bit of weight and money! On the other hand, my last power bill was almost $700. AGMs have a life of 4 - 8 years. I expect 4 years with daily use. They last longer if they're not drained below 50% charge. That's the job of the solar panels... to keep them topped up. 2 x 60watt solar panels take about a day to fully charge an AGM in sunlight. So if the drain is more or less equal to the charge rate, Bob's yer uncle.

One of the disadvantages of having solar panels fixed to the roof of the camper is having to park in sunlight rather than shade... well, at least the back end. But it also means less likelihood of having them nicked. Out of sight, out of mind. Anyway, I'll be outdoors most of the day. It also means less bird droppings on the panels themselves. Speaking of which, I was in the camper yesterday and saw through the kitchen side window a gray spotted dove sitting on its nest in the branches about 2 feet away. Spring has gone and it's well into summer so I'm not sure what it was doing. Maybe it's a sign of good fortune?

I'm amazed that shot turned out as well as it did, taken through a screened window. She was napping at first with her head out of sight so I tapped on the window. That vine is a wisteria that's taken over the joint. 

João was good enough to send me a New Year's graphic which he says is good for both 2013 and 2018. I could say this is one for the girls but you wouldn't believe me anyway. Hehe.

Thank you João for your kind thoughts and "everything else". I also wish you all the best for 2013. As to 2018, well, who knows what mysteries lie in wait? I like this quote: Fyodor Dostoyevsky - "The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for."

As to fiscal cliffs and wotnots, Oregon Richie has this to say: Meanwhile the world keeps spinning around.  The nation may avoid falling off the cliff and eventually self preservation may prevail.  Actor Matt Damon recently said he'd concluded that the whole political smash was just one great big freaking GAME but he did vote for Obama, citing his main reason being that one or two Supreme Court appointments may happen in this term and THAT has seriously lasting value to how things go in this country.  The overall result of the big election was that on balance America decided to turn its back from the door that returned to the PAST, and THAT is very much true and important.  Seriously.... one helluva lot is and was at stake.  The prospect of a total Republican takeover chills me, and am glad it did not happen.

Richie also mentioned the crash of the Russian plane just outside Moscow. Here's a report from the Beeb, including dramatic footage of the impact: Footage of the moment a Russian plane ran off a runway and hit a motorway in Moscow has emerged. At least four crew members were killed when the Red Wings Tupolev-204 overshot the runway. No passengers were on board. A motorist happened to be filming in his car as he drove along the road when the plane crashed.

I watched Attenborough's Journey last night and it was great, with snippets from the man himself about his adventures. It was a behind the scenes doco about his various travels around the globe. He's 83 but still capable of quite physically demanding work. He's often placed in awkward situations for the "best shot". His crews are always top notch. They go to extraordinary lengths to capture stunning pictures, using sophisticated cranes in the most difficult locations to get smooth, sweeping views of the landscape or seascape, or interesting angles of Attenborough to camera. Lighting is also crucial, and often they will wait hours or days before shooting a scene when the light is just perfect. Attenborough himself is an affable man who loves to tell a good yarn. He has a wicked sense of humor as well, and a ready laugh. He absolutely loves what he does, and has a great passion for it. It's his life. One of the crew said he can't imagine Attenborough ever retiring.

In one segment, Attenborough was watching the digital animation process that brings creatures that existed 500 million years ago to life on the screen. He's always excited by new technology and is often among the first to incorporate it in his documentaries. He said if you saw the real descendant of an  ancient fossil and a digitzed one together on the screen you'd be hard pressed to tell which one was real and which one wasn't. He fondly remembers the days of 35mm film and vintage cameras but has no wish to go back there.

Just got an eCard from Ohio Josh titled 2013 The Year of the Odyssey. I hope he's right... I couldn't stand any more dramas.

Unlike last year winter has arrived. Four snowstorms since Christmas with 13 inches (33.02 cm) covering the ground, that is twice as much as we had all last winter and just shy of the all time total for the month of December. More is expected tomorrow so we might break the record.

It was so bad Boxing Day the Sheriff declared a snow emergency closing the highways to all travel. The first (early) storm started out as freezing rain and changed over to snow and for a while stopped altogether. The second and much worse storm arrived mid afternoon and stayed until morning. Despite that June's sister arrived, very early in the morning with a car full of grandchildren, thankfully, all boys. The temps have taken a tumble too, at present it is minus 8 C. Last year is was 5 degrees C. New Year's Eve.

As usual Jace's job on NYE will be to babysit the young-uns. He prefers them to drunks anyway hehe. Me too, for that matter. I experienced minus 8 in Canberra one time and I can tell you I'm in no hurry to do it again, especially in the back of a Kombi van.

Speaking of warmer climes, I've been searching eBay for a dash mat to suit the Courier. Rare as hen's teeth for a '94 model but there's a place in Perth WA that molds them... lifetime guarantee never to lose their shape or deteriorate (unlike yours truly). I bought one of those for Bluey and it fit like a glove. So that's $50 + $8 postage gone from the budget. It's worth it though. There's a 1" crack in the dash and another smaller one, and I don't want it to get any worse. That bus will be spending many a long day in the Aussie sun on the Odyssey.

And here's a surprising anecdote from NC Art: Another car that was briefly popular in the US was make by Ford in England. Two models, the Anglia and the Prefect became desirable after WWII for their gasoline efficiency, small size which easily navigated narrow streets common in old cities and college towns. A student friend told me his Anglia could be hidden under a campus rose bush. Turn signals were little pointing hands recessed in the car door and operated by a lever. Quaint.

My first Morris had those... little flippers recessed in the center door pillar. That was before "blinkers". Mine must've been broken cos I distinctly remember using hand signals for turning and braking. But I find it surprising that the Brit Anglia and Prefect were popular in the States. They were here too but I never found them inspiring. Boxy things. My second eldest bro went broke shortly after being married and ended up back at the family homestead living with his wife and two babies in a caravan parked in the back yard. He bought a battered used Prefect for 20 quid that kept jumping out of second gear, but at least it got him around. A year or so earlier, I'd purchased my first car, a Morris Oxford about which he commented, "Why did you buy an old man's car?" But that was before he bought the Prefect, which looked pretty sad parked next to my flash Morris.

A Simca made in France served me very well for years and only gave up the ghost when brake and clutch components were no more to be found. My son wrecked it a couple of times, which didn’t help promote longevity. Teenagers are hard on vehicles. He totaled a Chevrolet Impala, and turned a Plymouth into a traveling junk yard.

I hope it wasn't a case of like father like son. The interesting thing about the next generation Oxford released in '54, was that it served so well in India as a taxi, they still use the almost identical Indian-built version today!

And French cars? I have a particular fondness (even though I've never owned one) for the old Citroen, and also the little Renault 4CV.

And once again, dear Breth, it's 5-ish. This is the final Waffle I'm afraid. I won't be doing another one till next year. Gary

December 30, 2012. Thilly me got the tons, tonnes, kilograms and pounds all ass about yesterday according to NC Art: All the discussion of weights left me rather more confused than enlightened. Kilos to pounds and tons is baffling. Short ton or long ton? Or tonne? A ton is 2,000 pounds Avoirdupois. So your “2200 lbs. is almost a ton” doesn’t seem to wash well, even if we’re talking Troy weight. Oh hell, let it go.

And Oregon Richie too: A ton ( or tonne ) here is considered 2000 pounds so there is some difference with your measurements.

The problem started when I Googled 2200 pounds and found it's equal to 997.9 kilograms. So I mistakenly thought 2200 pounds was "almost" a ton (whereas it's almost a metric tonne). The American slide-in was therefore 2.2 ton, which is significantly heavier than my camper at 700kgs or 1543 pounds. I thought a ton and a tonne were the same. Obviously not. And if you think it's confusing for you, imagine poor ol' me brought up with imperial weights and measures and then having to deal with metric as an adult.

Art also omitted some pertinent stuff from his correspondence yesterday: I failed to mention that our exchange student from England spoke incessantly about her dad’s wondrous Humber. I had just bought a large Chevrolet station wagon expressly to cart all of us about the country in comfort. The girl thought it was an inferior colonial crude contraption. Oh well. Those American colonists, ungrateful for the generous benevolence accorded them by King George III.

Humber was part of the Rootes Group - Humber, Hillman, Singer, Commer (trucks). My dad's boss had a Humber Hawk which was a lovely car. The Hillman Minx of the period was also a popular car in Oz. The Singer Gazelle was the sporty version thereof. Then came the Hillman Imp to compete with the Morris Mini. The Imp enjoyed considerable success in racing. Another nice looking Humber/Singer was the Vogue. Chrysler bought the Rootes Group in the '60s or '70s and included the French-made Simca in the lineup. Yes, ladies and genitals, I took an interest in cars back then but I wouldn't know one from t'other these days. BTW, Oregon Richie fessed to owning a Hillman Husky at one stage. Then he went from the sublime to the ridiculous and owned a TR3.

But the unions buggered the British auto industry with their greedy demands. An effort was made by the government to rescue it with British Leyland but it failed. A while ago I was talking to Sue's mother on the phone and was surprised to learn she drove a Renault. She loved it! That would have been unthinkable at one time when the Brits claimed to build the best cars in the world. Now Rover/Jaguar is owned by the Indians, Rolls is owned by BMW, and Bentley is owned by VW. Morris is still going... building Minis and MGs. The 100th anniversary of Morris has either just passed or is about to happen. Can't remember which.

Roite, so much for kellypedia.

How many times do you see 'Made in China' on the products you buy? Here's one reason why they're so cheap.

Speaking of made in China, time to make a smoothie. Strawbs this time.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama says he is "modestly optimistic" that a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" is possible, after a last-ditch White House meeting. Mr Obama said Senate leaders were working to craft a bill that could win approval in both chambers of Congress. But if a compromise was not reached, the president said he would ask for a quick vote on preventing tax rises. Congress has only four days to reach an agreement before across-the-board tax rises and spending cuts take effect. And we're not just talking about the US economy here, folks.

Just started the Courier engine after six days. First go, no worries. No smoke either. But I'll know more when I get a full service and check up done. I expect there'll be things that need fixing... it's usually the case with older cars. But that won't be till I sell the Falcon, which no one seems to be in a hurry to buy at the mo. Things are pretty slow out there. Two-ish grand won't go far, though... 2 x AGM batteries, a used bull bar, stablizer bar, air shocks and maaaaybe a second solar panel.

At the mo I'm pestering TX Greg about amps, volts, inverters, fridges, batteries and solar panels. I'd rather run the fridge on 240V than gas if I can... and save the gas for cooking (and cloudy weather). Besides, electricity is free! Mind you, the batteries aren't but they're heaps cheaper than town power. Two quarterly power bills would easily pay for 2 AGMs. If you'd like some technical info about AGM batteries, click here.

Roite, two peaches blitzed. That'll imrove the creamed rice tonight. No way I could eat a peach otherwise. And the soup? Asparagus. Sound exciting? Oh well, it's not forever... I haven't decided what I'll do on the first night the dentures are fitted. Better not dine out in case they take a bit of getting used to hehe. I don't wanna be crawling under the table (especially someone else's) looking for the damn things. I think I'll play it safe and get a take away pizza to eat at home. Thin and crusty supreme with double everything.

I think I've just ruined my asparagus soup.

So wot's on telly? Attenborough's Journey, Joanna Lumley's Greek Odyssey, Gardening Australia, ABC News, The Manor Reborn. That'll do.

Meanwhile, I suppose I've learned a thing or two about batteries and solar panels and such. Not thrilling but useful. Byeeeee! Gary

December 29, 2012. Here's a response from a bloke on the Ford forum about the Courier's ability to handle the job: The stock suspension will handle 750kg no worries they actually ride better with weight on (providing its not overloaded and evenly loaded), add some air shocks or polyair springs to firm the rear up a little if need be. 

Air shocks sound good to me. I fitted the old Kombi with new air shocks and they made a huge difference. Also, I'm now convinced I should add a rear stabilizer. If nothing else, those changes will ease my mind. While I was farting around on forums, I looked for the exact weight of a Freeway camper and found an entry from a previous owner who said it weighs "almost" 700kgs loaded (including water). 1000kgs is a ton. So that's good to know. One entry from a bloke on an American RV forum said his slide "in" weighed 2200 pounds unladen which is almost a ton. I also noticed Americans referring to 3/4 ton pickups. The Courier can carry 1.2. And how much does a liter of water weigh? Actually, 'weigh' is the wrong term because water can vary with temperature. It can be liquid, ice or steam. But in its normal state its mass is 1 kilogram. 50 liters = 50kgs. Another thing I read about the Freeway is that all heavy items such as water tank, fridge, bed, wardrobe, etc, are situated forward of the rear axle so that most of the weight is evenly distributed over the four wheels. The previous owner liked the Freeway but said it was a little top heavy, and opted for a pop-top when he upgraded to lower the center of gravity. But I think if the load is sensibly distributed, it shouldn't be a prob. I only use the top cupboards for light stuff.

So there ya go, almost an expert and I haven't gone anywhere yet. Aren't forums wonderful?

So what will mine look like when the camper is sitting on the tray? This is a Courier but the camper is bolted to the chassis, and not detachable. Here's one sitting on a Mazda Bravo (same thing, different badge) that looks home made. Ew! Not many around so I suppose we'll have to wait till mine is all set up before we get to see pics of the real thing. One of these days I'll get signage made... stick on ones with the AO logo and put them on the doors.

From the Beeb: An Indian student who was left critically ill after being gang-raped on a Delhi bus has died, say doctors who were treating her in Singapore. Well, now it's murder as well as rape. Such despicable behavior is beyond my comprehension.

Rescue workers managed to save a dog which got trapped out on the ice in Michigan on Thursday. The dog had wandered out onto a frozen part of Lake Erie, near Brownstown Township, and had been unable to return to shore. Rescue crews responded after the dog's owner, unable to reach the animal, rang 911. A rescue worker tried to keep the dog warm before it was eventually lifted into a boat and taken back to shore. The better side of human nature. Check out the vid.

US President Barack Obama says he is "modestly optimistic" that a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" is possible, after a last-ditch White House meeting. Yes, I suppose there's not much point in a fiscal cliff if it's not a cliff hanger. The press is lapping it up, that's for sure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a ban on Americans adopting Russian orphans. The law is a reaction to the US Magnitsky Act, which blacklists Russian officials accused of rights abuses. The games pollies play.

China has tightened its rules on internet usage to enforce a previous requirement that users fully identify themselves to service providers. The move is part of a package of measures which state-run Xinhua news agency said would protect personal information. But critics believe the government is trying to limit freedom of speech. The announcement will be seen as evidence China's new leadership views the internet as a threat. Anyone surprised?

A study of 2012's most read Wikipedia articles reveals striking differences in what proved popular across the different language versions of the online encyclopaedia. Facebook topped the English edition while an entry for adult video actresses did best in Japan. Hua Shan - a Chinese mountain featuring "the world's deadliest hiking trail" - topped the Dutch list. By contrast, cul-de-sacs were the German site's most clicked entry. An interesting article if you care to read it.

In pictures: 2012 as seen from space.

NC Art commented on Humbers and Holdens: On the subject of automobiles, asinine is the word for some experiments. A Humber that looks like a Buick, a Holden resembling a Chevrolet, and a Humber that I was denied permission to even look at. That’s what the link advised: You are not authorized to view this link. Balls to them blokes too! In the late ‘60’s, we hosted an exchange student from England for a year, and the event was not all lovely. She was the spoiled adopted daughter of an elderly vicar and within hours of arrival on U S soil proceeded to find fault with everything and everybody. Sharp of tongue in criticizing her bedroom furniture, anything we prepared for meals, our American Southern accent. She immediately alienated our daughter of her same age, and vented her spleen loudly on our seven year old son. I had a bit more tolerance because I had spent time in England and understood a bit better her manners, but it was a trial nevertheless. 

During the '50s and '60s a flood of immigrants from England arrived in Oz, seeking a better life and sunnier skies. Some of them settled in quite well while others bitched about everything, including the heat. We called those 'whinging Poms' and the name stuck. Funny thing was, it was the Chinese who cornered the fish 'n' chip shop market and not the Poms.

Art also sent this little ditty about my inability at the mo to eat proper meals:

Some ha meat and kinna eat
And some would eat that want it 
But we ha meat and we can eat
And so the Lord be thankit!

Okay, here's my version:

Some ha meat and kinna chew
But mine goes through the blender
Thankit Lord, praise be to you
For I ha meat so tender.

No, scratch that. I'd rather have TEETH!

Back from shopping, but I won't elaborate on what I saw a woman doing with her finger and nostril right in the middle of the mall except to say it was REVOLTING! Actually, one of the questions on IQ one night was "what is the worst thing you have ever tasted?" One panelist answered, "ear wax". Thankfully, no one asked him how he knew.

So what did I buy that's exciting? Nothing, really. Just the usual BLAND stuff. Come to think of it, somebody starving in Africa wouldn't think it was too bland. And if I were eating strawberries and cream like normal people do instead of turning it into a puree, I might not think so too.

There was a time I loved to bite
On buttered toast with Vegemite
But now there's not a tooth in sight
To help me ease my sorry plight.

We're happy little Vegemites
As bright as bright can be
We all enjoy our Vegemite
For breakfast, lunch and tea.
If you sing one more word of that ridiculous song, so help me, I'll...
Our Mummies say we're growing stronger every single week
Because we love our Vegemite.
I don't give a damn about your fucking Vegemite! Ya hear?
We all adore our Vegemite.
Gimme a gun. Anyone got a gun? AK47? Grenade launcher?
Yeah? Well, I hate rosy cheeks. I hate children! I hate Vegemite! I hate that song! Got it? HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE. Now piss off.

Yes, the hornet is still there probably gathering details for its insurance claim. I went to the garage to take pics of the new registration sticker and the engine of the Ute for the Gumtree ad and we kinda surprised each other... so the hornet took off in one direction and I took off in the other. Anyway, I got my pics and the ad's been updated. I also paid an extra $3 to put it back to the head of the list.

Heard on the news that the Pacific Hwy was jammed with traffic yesterday because of holiday makers heading home. But that's only some of them. Most stay for the school holidays through January. I've stayed a bit longer... 11 years so far. Hehe. The only reason I chose Taree was because of cheaper rent. In fact, we're still paying less than we were in Sydney for a dump all those years ago. We also have closer access to better facilities.

And here we is again, 5-ish. Has it been an exciting day? Uh... no. But not a bad one... no dramas. Well, apart from Rodney. Yes, he's back scratching around. There are two baits under the house so aside from gelignite I dunno what else I can do. Anyway, time to focus on other matters. Gary

December 28, 2012. Three more 2012s and that's it. Oregon Richie and I were talking about 2013 and what it might hold for our futures, but I was reminded of an old bloke I saw in town the other day who was slowly making his way down the street using a white-tipped cane to guide him. Exactly 12 months ago, I was told I needed an operation to remove a lesion in my mouth, and I thought, "Oh, yeah, a few days in hospital and I'll be back to normal." Yeah, right. Little did I know...

BUT, here I am still kickin', with a reaonable expectation of a return to good health within a few months. I have a camper, a truck, and a dream to chase. Hold that song, fat lady! I'll tell you when.

Oregon Richie wrote: Regarding things of the automotive type I agree that I'm not wild about suspension airbag systems.  They are useful in some cases and as overload devices for heavy-hauling vehicles and trucks with campers and fifth-wheel trailers and such but they eventually break down.  On most post 95 Range Rover vehicles and some series two Discovery models, when they crap out they just remove the whole smash and replace them with a coil-spring suspension kit.  I think your new UTE has really good tires if they are 8 ply and that will affect the ride quality, too... but they are made for rough terrain and heavier loads.  Yeah, the front tires ( or tyres ) probably could use with higher pressure but there are usually charts in the manual or easily found on-line that will suggest pressure levels depending on load or how to reduce it to certain levels when in sand, for example.

Yep, it was the user manual I read yesterday that had the recommended tire pressures. There's a whole bunch of other useful info there as well. As to air bags, I get the feeling they're best forgotten. Next!

TX Greg wrote: I take it you have the owners manual and that's where you're getting the recommended tire pressure? The tires should be stamped on the sidewall with max inflation and hopefully the tires on there are the correct factory recommended too. Very odd to me that they would want that low in the front versus that high in the rear. Usually all should be inflated to the same pressure. As to the 60-63 PSI, that's not high as my motorhome is 90 PSI all 6 tires. :) 

Yep, the user manual recommends 26psi for front, and 63psi for rear loaded (8 ply) (34psi unloaded).

And a dumb question, you did say "psi" (Pounds per Square Inch) don't you convert tire pressure there to metic?

Yep, it's metric in the manual but with psi in parenthesis. I'm more familiar with pounds and inches. Even after 40+ years, I'm only now getting used to metric weights, distances and speeds. As to miles per gallon versus liters per 100kms, I prefer mpg. When someone refers to the tray being 1835mm wide, for example, I prefer 6 feet.

Incidentally, with the extra storage bin under the camper, the gap between the underside of the cabover and the roof of the cab is just over a foot, so I figure there's enough room to fit a short luggage rack on the roof to carry a second spare wheel. Yeah? Also, it would help deflect the wind from the straight wall of the camper and negate the need for one of those plastic bubbles. Down there for dancin', baby.

Yesterday, as I arrived home from the shops, there was a hornet buzzing around a mud nest inside the garage. As I got out of the car, it came toward me to investigate. Luckily, I had the new blitzer in my hand and was able to shoo it away. It was there last year as well, so I sprayed the nest with insecticide to obliterate any babies that might be secreted inside. I guess this year, the hornet was wondering what the smell was all about, and who had messed with its eggs. Later, I went back to the garage, checked that the hornet was nowhere around, and used a metal rod to dislodge the nest from the wall. Took a bit of jabbing too, but it finally hit the cement floor like a brick. In fact, it's about a third the size of a regular house brick. Just now, when I went to check the user manual in the truck, the hornet was there again trying to figure out where its nest had gone. Hehe. So I closed the truck door in case it decided that I was the obvious culprit.

Back in 1970, I was driving my Beetle down a steep hill towards the coast at Byron Bay when a hornet flew in the open window and landed on the dash (such as it was). I freaked! My gaze was fixed on the thing for some seconds and when I looked back at the road, I'd drifted into the oncoming lane and saw a large American car headed straight towards me. I swung the wheel, hit the dirt shoulder back on my side of the road, braked, fish-tailed, sent dirt and stones all over the place, and finally came to a skidding halt. The moment I pulled the handbrake on, I was out the door... and left it open until the hornet departed. I suspect it disapproved of my driving. Anyway, that was my scariest encounter with a hornet. And now there's another one trying to make my life a misery. Either that or put an end to it.

Well, the new blitzer works well and takes less effort to do the same job as its predecessor. It also has a few improved design features. And now it's PILLS time again. Come to think of it, I am improving slowly. A few months ago I had to crush pills before I could take them cos my tongue had little feeling. I can take them normally now.

From the Beeb: The US appears to be heading over the "fiscal cliff", the Democratic US Senate leader says, as the House prepares a last-minute return to Washington. So what will happen? Hopefully, it'll be reminiscent of the Y2O scare. Do you ever get the impression that ideology takes precedence over people as far as politicians are concerned?

The son of Pakistan's murdered ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto promises to fight militancy and maintain democracy, in his first major political speech. I wish him well... especially in a country like Pakistan.

Fifteen people have been reported killed by a severe snow storm moving into north-eastern US states after disrupting Christmas in the Midwest. States in New England are due to see heavy snowfall, with up to 18 inches of snow expected in parts of Maine, the National Weather Service said. Flights were grounded and road collisions reported as the storm moved across the middle of the US. As many as 34 tornadoes were reported across the South on Christmas Day. The storm moved across the Upper Ohio Valley and into the US north-east on Wednesday night. Heavy snow was also reported in eastern parts of Canada.

NC Art writes: I think you’re roit about the Studebaker. The nearest I could find was a 47 model which closely resembled the one you showed us. Main difference was in the engine cover and a wider grille. Fenders and tyres very close to your sample. No accounting for taste! Incidentally, Spellcheck does not like me to use vernacular such as roit, or British tyre spelling, or even G’Day. Dumb program, what?

It was spellcheck that finally convinced me to use American spelling rather than Oz/English. It was forever questioning my stuff and frustrating the hell outta me. It didn't like "outta" either. Hehe. These days it's turned off. If I'm not sure about a spelling, I check it manually. American spelling is often less confusing to an international audience. He fell on his arse. He fell on his what? He fell on his ass. Oh, I see... and what happened then? I reckon it musta hurt. You what? I figure it musta hurt. Oh, I see.

However, I still like to throw in the occasional fair dinkum, bloody, no worries, etc, just to Ozify my scribbles... add a little antipodean color, so to speak. I've had a few Aussies criticize me for choosing to use American spelling but bugger 'em. Which reminds me, I watched a show on telly last night about Three Men in a Boat, practicing their sailing skills for a race. One of them got knocked on the head by the swinging boom and decided to relinquish the rest of his duties. The captain ordered him to winch a sail but the bloke responded with something I thought was quite funny: "I can't. I'm in the middle of a mutiny."

But back to Studebakers, Oregon Richie wrote: Yeah... everybody was right about that being one unusual Stude, but they made a lovely car ahead of it's time way back in the day, too....

Lovely if you happened to be an American who liked European styling. But Americans at the time didn't. I think Humber in Britain made that mistake back in the early '60s when they forsook their traditional British style for a modern American look. Soon thereafter, Humber was no more. Holden in Oz was careful not to copy its parent company's (GM) trends too closely hehe, and kept our version of the Chrevrolet more conservative. For example, here's a '60 Chevy, and here's the Holden version. The most popular Holden ever built was the HQ - my Tough Titties - which was produced from '71 to '74, and based on the Chevrolet Chevelle. American stylists had dropped their penchant for fins and oodles of heavy chrome by then. It's not uncommon to see those old Holdens still on the road even after all these years. I remember vividly attending an open day at the local Holden dealer for the release of the 1971 HQ Monaro coupe. Wow! What a car!

If I lined up all the cars I've owned and/or driven over the years, it would be a crazy hotchpotch, which I think speaks volumes about my life hehe. Nothing consistent about it at all. And here I am in my latter days with a truck and a camper. Actually, it's probably the most practical combo I've ever owned... not the flashest, mind you, but the most practical. I can go places and I can live in it. With million dollar views every day. Earlier today I saw an ad for a 2008 slide-on camper for $28,000. And that's just the camper! It has a few things mine doesn't and it's newer, but what the hell. The complete motorhome combo only cost me $7,200. And the views are just as good.

So there ya go, only 3 sleeps before the clock strikes midnight and relegates 2012 to history. Gary

December 27, 2012. NC Art wrote: Goofy Studebaker. That is the weirdest Studebaker I ever have seen. What do you know about it … year, where produced, how many sold, etc.,? I’d hate to be the mechanic who had to work on the engine. The toughest and most reliable sedan I ever had was a ’49 Stood. After that, the company caught Detroit Design Fever and streamlined itself out of business. About the same thing Hudson and Terraplane did. Easy come, easy go I guess.

Yep, it had me fooled for a while too. But there's a term used in the hot rod customizing business called "chopped". Usually, it refers to lowering the original roofline. But in the case of the '48 Stood pickup, they've shortened the snout. You'll notice the front fenders are identical to the rear fenders. Seems to me the door has been cut away to fit the curve of the fender. The hood is a shortened version of the original. If you gave that front end a tap here and there, you'd probably find extensive use of fiberglass. Dunno what they've done with the engine... it either protrudes into the cab or they've mounted it transversely. But I agree about certain makes streamlining themselves out of business. Some of the ugliest cars ever hatched were designed during the '50s and early '60s. Ford nearly blew it with the Edsel. And remember that dreadful thing called the Crosley? And what about the Studebaker Lark? Sheesh.

Paradoxically, it was during that period that the weirdest little car ever conceived took the world by storm - the Beetle. It was so ugly, it was deemed cute. I had five VWs, three of them Beetles. And what a fun car to drive they were! The Beetle also inspired some of the best advertising the world has ever seen.

My whizzer went bung. Fortunately, I finished making the smoothie before it carked it. The motor still works... it's the shaft that's come adrift and won't stay locked in place. Stoopid Chinese junk. Oh well... off to the shops I go. But not before the dentist. I'm due there in half an hour.

Roite, next appointment in about a week... so the time between visits is getting a little longer as the healing progresses. Nancy's away so it was a bloke this time. He said the healing is slow but nothing to worry about. The most important thing is the mouthwash 3 times a day for 30 seconds. While I was in the waiting room, there was a cooking show on telly... lots of yummy, crunchy things. And last night I watched a Maltese cooking show... all kinds of yummy stuff I CAN'T EAT! One of them was Bragioli which looked awesome. And you know those very moreish cheese and spinach pastizzis? Oh... I love those! Dentures, dentures, where art thou?

Back with a new stick blitzer for $22. It's similar to the old one but more powerful - 250W instead of 150W. This time I'm keeping the packaging and receipt in case it breaks.

Jim M wrote regarding the firemen who were lured to their deaths by a gunman in New York: In the past week prior to the latest lunatic, I have driven thru this neighborhood 6 times. Although they live on the waterfront, these are not filthy rich people. All the homes are former camps converted to year-round homes. Sitting at the lake-front, these homes are exposed to severe winter snow, ice, blizzards, and high winds. Requiring constant upkeep.

From my blog post:

The shooting scene of the Webster firemen is a short 3 minute drive from my home. I've read of the deaths, seen the destruction, and smelled the charred homes. I am particularly moved by the death of the 19 year-old, Tomasz. He was a volunteer fireman. Not only was he a first-responder, but he volunteered for duty that night so veteran firefighters could be home with their families over the Christmas holiday. He didn't have to be there! It is sad to see such a promising life, and dedicated citizen, gunned down.

Thanks for the note, Jimm. Sad indeed. By the way, the two pyromaniacs responsible for deliberately starting a bushfire on the outskirts of Sydney a week ago are 14 and 11. The 14 y/o was kept in custody over Christmas. None of his family was present at the court hearing. Whether they were too embarrassed or just didn't give a damn I'm not sure.

From the Beeb: Former US President George H W Bush has been in intensive care with a fever since Sunday, his spokesman reveals. Not sure if he ever made an official visit to Oz but he was here one time checking out Sydney real estate.

Here's a slide show of famous faces who called it a day in 2012.

Japanese carmaker Toyota has agreed to pay an estimated $1.1bn (£680m; 830m euros) in a settlement of hundreds of lawsuits from US owners. The deal would compensate owners for economic losses and for the cost of safety changes to their cars. Since 2009, Toyota has recalled more than 14 million vehicles worldwide after floor mats became trapped under the accelerator.

Just checked the recommended tire pressures for the ute. 26psi in front, which seems a bit low. I'll try 32 to improve the steering. What surprised me (not having had a truck before) is the recommended pressure for the rear tires when carrying a full load - 60 to 63. That's a lot! TX Greg and Oregon Richie are probably more familiar with that kinda thing. The tires on mine are Bridgestone light truck steel radials and I think they're 8 ply.

One bloke on a forum says Airbags are designed to restrict the natural flow of the springs which is great on the road but no good on the ruff up and down stuff. It is much better to get a larger stiffer higher off the ground set of springs, then the suspension can compress under load .... and then more again without hitting the bump stops. Airbag load leveller type airbags should be banned I.M.O. I have seen these things disable quite a few vehicles on the gulf development tracks from being inflated too much and restricting axle movement. And yes , A decent set of tyres makes a phenominal difference to tyre failure rates. Most people I see with holed tyres typically have just passed through a dry creek bed with a dip in it or a bull dust hole , the vehicle (heavily loaded ) has its suspension bottomed out or restricted by airbags at the bottom or the climb out of the dip or hole and any sharp bubble or mulga root is punched clean through the tyre as the tyre is heavily compressed onto the surface from lack of relief from the suspension. I have seen this many times over and will leave a person with cheap or poorly made tyres in dire trouble and even well shod vehicles feeling the heat of having to "walk the vehicle on eggs" so to speak especially if they don't have another spare or adequate repair equipment or skills.

Well, so much for air bags. I think Steve W said something about an anti sway bar fitted to the rear is a much better option. I don't intend to rough it too much on dirt roads but many camping areas are only accessible by dirt road... not the kind that requires a 4WD, but not all that smooth either.

Hmmm... below 50 kilos. Not good. I'd better make an extra effort to eat more protein. I'll add chopped pastrami to the beef soup tonight, and have a bowl of creamed rice for dessert. Rice is good, and I can swallow the rice cream without chewing. The prob is a lack of interest in food at the mo. It's all soooo boooring! One of the interesting treats on the Maltese cooking show was their version of an open sandwich. A thick slice of fresh crusty bread smeared with tomato paste, then topped with tuna (or anchovies), sliced tomato, capers, ground pepper, a splash of virgin olive oil and fresh parsley. I heard the crunch of the crusty bread when the presenter took a bite and thought to myself I WISH THAT WAS ME! Even an ordinary ham and tomato sandwich would do. Pardon me while I weep.

5-ish again. Is there another cooking show on telly tonight? Yep. Will I watch it? Yep. I figure if I can't eat it at least I can watch it. I promise I will never take food - even the simplest kind - for granted EVER again. Gary

December 26, 2012. Boxing day. And I found this old girl on the web. Never seen a Studebaker like this one before:

NC Art penned a little poem: Not exactly Shakespeare, but so what?

Christmas comes but once a year
And when it does we’re glad it’s here,
But when it’s gone we give three cheers
For months of rest ‘til again it nears!

Lemme try one:

Chaos and bedlam is what I fear
As Christmas once again draws near.
Bugger the ho ho ho and cheer
Gimme the sanity I hold so dear.

Lindsay's sitting outside on the veranda chatting away to himself. He's not a well chappie ya know.

It's gray and coolish today which I suppose holidaymakers are bitching about. They come here in droves on their annual pilgrimage to enjoy the coast's legendary sunshine and sandy beaches. Oh well... Actually, the rest of the week and weekend look pretty good, so that'll cheer them up. Then they'll all pack up at the same time and suffer long lines of traffic and summer heat as they head back to their urban humdrum.

But at least they'll have memories to take home. Even after almost 50 years, I still have fond memories of my 5-week camping trip along the south coast of NSW in my little Wolseley and my mate Ron. I remember one dirty old man who owned the campground convenience store. He invited Ron and me to share some Drambui in the back of his van. "I wish a had a mate like you blokes have," he lamented. Hehe. Yeah, right, but Ron and I were too naive to realize what he was up to. So at some stage on the Odyssey I'll revisit those places... Moruya, Narooma, Bermagui, Tathra, Broulee, etc., and remember listening to The Righteous Bros singing "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" on the transistor radio while Ron tried to make me jealous by chatting up the girls on the beach. Hehe. Oh, the follies of youth.

From the Beeb: Nearly two-thirds of voters in an Egyptian referendum held in two stages support a proposed new constitution, the election commission announces. As Winston Churchill said, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

The Pope calls for a political solution to the conflict in Syria during his Christmas message, delivered to thousands of pilgrims at the Vatican. Good thinking, Benny. You tell 'em.

A man alleged to have lured two US volunteer firefighters to their deaths in New York state left a long note outlining his plans, police say. I hope he wasn't expecting sympathy.

Banana smoothie time. I'd be dead if it weren't for those things with all their vitamins, minerals and fiber. Milk, yoghurt, egg, banana (or other fruit), 3 scoops Sustagen (hospital formula). Now all I need is a phone booth, tights and cape.

Just checked the ute tray again and it looks a bit difficult to remove the sides and bottom lips. They're bolted on at each end and screwed to the floor at 10" intervals... and the screw tops are rusty. So I think I'll advertise the three sides free to anyone who removes them. That'll save me a lot of buggerizing around. 

Whose child is this?

It's Francois' grandson. Isn't he gorgeous? Much prettier than his wrinkly old grandpa. A while I've not writen: I was very occupied with 3 women at home, then very tired hehehe. Many pics (more than 3,000) to sort before publishing them in my site... And yes I passed Christmas'eve and Christmas day at my daughter's with the grandson: very hard life in their pool... 

For the new year eve we'll maybe be confined in our houses, praying the roof could be remain on our head: the jointed pic is the forecast for the 01 01 2013: bad begining... btw the big island left downward is New Caledonia (around 400km), the 3 islands at its right are the Loyautes (french too), then the string of islands at the right upward are the Vanuatus... and the winds are in knots: 1 line is 10kts , the triangle is 50kts and that's the average wind , not the  squalls...

I use to read your waffles quite each day and I see you're really close to your big departure: good luck for the next ute and for your health too. You're right: Cody'd be proud to be the friend of this adventurous old man...

I think Francois means they're praying the roof could remain above their heads, not on them hehe. But I hope also that the storm passes without incident.

There was a news item on telly last night about the road kill doubling on Aussie roads during the holiday season, with inexperienced city drivers colliding with wildlife. It's not only the wildlife that suffers, of course, it can also cause serious damage to cars. In some circumstances, such as isolated areas out of mobile phone reach, it can mean a long walk or a long wait to be rescued. The message is, avoid driving at dawn and dusk, and take extra care.

Years ago, when I stayed at a pub in Snowy Mountains country, I met two travellers at breakfast (serve yourself in the kitchen) who hit a kangaroo the night before and had booked into the pub late. The damage to their car was sufficient to require repairs. In some outback places, there's not a repairer for hundreds of kilometers. Some of those big roos are taller than a man. As are emus. And you don't find too many midget camels hehe. Yep, slow and easy, that's my motto, and keep your wits about you. I suppose Francois has to keep a watch for whales.

You know how I paid for the truck with only $800 in my savings account? I got an interest free advance on my pension of $1000 and paid the rent with my credit card rather than use the savings account. So that gave me $1400 plus the $800 savings = $2200. Then I transferred $200 from Paypal to my savings account = $2400, and added an extra $100 from L&S's share of the rent = $2500. Just made it! I'm glad Alex didn't haggle. It was the same story with the camper back in May... I scratched around for money from all over the shop and just made it. In fact, if it hadn't been for the highest bidder reneging, and giving me a "second chance offer", I wouldn't have. Are you familiar with the expression "a wing and a prayer?"... that's me, folks.

But there's something romantic about doing things the hard way. In Oz, people who struggle to make ends meet are called "battlers". Cody often used the word "battle" to describe his studies or paddling through big surf or trying to stay on his feet in the ring with Mark hehe. So once the camper is on board the back of the truck, it'll be a Battler's Motorhome. Not too flash but good enough. Same as this web site. Battlers are also fond of using the expressions "she'll be right, mate" and "no worries" even in the face of doing the impossible.

I watched a story on telly last night about two women who, as young ladies, hitched their way around Europe back in the early '50s. "It was a wonderful experience. Europe back then was still suffering the effects of the bombing - London and Berlin - and there were ruins everywhere. It was amazing to see bridges lying in the river, and buildings half standing. But it was a great adventure! We always hitched rides with trucks because they were going somewhere... and we met a lot of interesting people, some of whom became our chauffeurs. Everyone was so friendly, and always pleased to see the Australian flag on our backpacks. We didn't have much money, and we ate lots of potatoes," they laughed. There's a woman in her 50s (married with kids and grandkids) who works as a checkout chick at the local supermarket. She's often told me stories of her hitch hiking trip in her late teens around New Zealand. "I had a wonderful time," she says with a twinkle in her eye. Yeah, I can imagine. 

The main thing that gives me confidence about managing the Odyssey financially is staying at free (or very low cost) camp sites like national parks. My share of the rent here is $400 a month. My share of the power and lawn mowing is roughly $100 a month. So that's $500 a month or $6000 a year. If I don't spend it, at the end of 5 years I'll have $30,000. Hello?

Further-bloody-more, I intend to keep that Nikon pumping and grinding, taking pics of all kinds of interesting things as I travel... hopefully, things most people don't often see, even other travellers. I figure I can run a little business selling some of those images as framed prints or postcards or calendars or whatever. And, after a few years when my portfolio contains enough really special images, I'll publish a picture book with explanatory commentary to go with the pics and sell that too! Hehe. I could be another Howard Hughes! Capitalize, capitalize.

BUT... all that is for another time and place. Right now, it's back to reality... soup and no teeth. Bleh. Good thing I can dream. Gary

December 25, 2012. So this is Christmas, to quote John Lennon... but he didn't have a Ford Courier parked in the yard. Speaking of which, the one that sold on eBay for $3550 the other day has been relisted. The winning bidder must have reneged (which happens quite often), so the seller has relisted but this time no auction... he wants $4000 for it. His is 3 years younger than mine, with air con and fancy wheels, but mine has travelled less miles, is basically the same, is local, was delivered to my front door, and cost $2500. Neh, neh, neh, neh, neeeh, neh.

From TX Greg: That's so funny you mentioned Bing Crosby yesterday as I used his song in your Christmas graphic, hehe.... Congrats on the Ute and Merry Christmas :)

There's me looking healthier and younger than I am now. I'm wearing Steve's bead necklace so that's about 10 years ago. Thanks Greg... love the graphic.

Oregon Richie congratulated me on the new ute too: We want to send you our best Christmas thoughts and wishes and am happy about your new UTE.  I like it, and thought the pictures were very nice.  It should do a great job for you, and I hope that flat-bed "tray" as you call it is THE PLATFORM on and from which better and more exciting aspects of life ahead develop. Remember, as Cat Stevens' wrote of years ago being "On the road to find out.....", and that in another context an American singer-songwriter named Dan Fogelberg wrote a lovely tune which I could actually play on the guitar which stated that "There's a place in the world for a gambler.....", and not so much in the casino-context of gambling, either.

But I especially liked Richie's comment: Cody would be so proud of you these days....... :-))

As to gun ownership, Richie has this to say: Yes, I do agree with the comments about the NRA and wondering if we'd hit a barricade of development and are going backwards.  In the long run we don't but it seems like it.  Becky showed me something very cute that was circulating on the net that :


What the hell do they think this world is?  A shootout at the OK Corral?  Shoot first and think later?  The Old American West or Dodge City circa 1855 and we dare you to try to stay alive?  Hmm. 

Ohio Jace sent a nice animated Christmas e-card with decorated trees and lots of sparkles: I know you've heard that the gun lobby's solution to mass murder is MORE guns not less. Hopefully, this time things will be different in Congress, but I will NOT hold my breath. They will talk about it for a couple of weeks and maybe present a bill for a vote. Then sweep the issue under the rug until the next mass murderer strikes a mall or school or church or cinema or wherever else.

An Aussie has won the Hawaiian Ironman for the 6th consecutive year. Not sure when it was run, but I watched it today on telly. Speaking of Hawaii the Obama's are there for the holiday enjoying the warmth while the rest of the country sweats it out over falling off the cliff. The people decided to go with his plan and we still cannot get Congress to get off their partisan asses and do anything.

Which reminds me, I often hear Americans comment on the prices of certain things in Oz. The other day it occurred to me that if America lost 22 million of its citizens to emmigration tomorrow (the population of Oz) it would still have about 95% of its former population hehe. So if prices for certain things, like used campers and vehicles, are higher here it's because of the much smaller market.

Jace tells me Christmas in Ohio is cold with snow but only a dusting. When he wrote, he was nursing one of the little guys in his lap. Typical Jace... always looking after the kids and toddlers. Later, he helped the little bloke into his PJs and put him to bed. But the main thing is that the Ohio gang is well and happy. Jace also has a new neighbor: Seems like a nice guy, but a bit to chatty for me. Hehe.

Time for my raspberry smoothie and more pills. If a man is what he eats, I'm a pill.

Just shed a tear when I signed Cody's guestbook. I remembered how important Christmas was to Code, and how he lavished love and attention on all his friends and family. I fondly remember the Harley calendar he gave Mark, with little reminders pencilled in on various dates... this is the day you beat the crap outta me, this is the day etc, etc. There was someone missing from the table on Christmas day 2001, but luckily for Mr and Mrs T, Christmas dinner was attended by Steve, Wingnut, Steph and Mark, Cody's closest friends, and they all had a good time telling stories about their beloved scallywag and remembering the best friend they ever had. I'm sure they're all remembering Cody today, Christmas 2012.

One of these days, when I'm camped somewhere, I'm gonna peg Cody's clothes (the ones Steve sent me) on the line outside the camper and take a pic.

From the Beeb: Two US volunteer firefighters have been shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state. Police said the four were fired upon in an "apparent trap" as they arrived on Monday morning. A gunman has been found dead at the scene, local police say. He had previously served a 17-year jail sentence after being convicted of killing his grandmother. Say no more.

But there's another side to this issue: More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported. They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut. Read the rest of the story here.

And while they're at it, maybe they should deport Obama as well.

US actor Jack Klugman, who starred in hit TV series in the 1970s and 80s, has died at the age of 90. He passed away in Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, his son Adam said, without giving further details. Klugman played a no-nonsense medical investigator in Quincy M.E. and a sloppy sports writer in The Odd Couple. The actor lost his voice to throat cancer in the 1980s but later trained himself to speak again. He returned to acting in the 1990s. "He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it and he would encourage others to do the same," son Adam Klugman was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

The Sony radio/CD was a bit of mystery yesterday in the ute. Buggered if I could get it working. The print on the front controls is so small I couldn't read it, and there's no user manual. It's one of those with a detachable face panel to discourage would-be thieves from breaking in. Hello? This morning I realized that if I detached the front panel, I could read the print! Doh! So I did, and got it working.

Just put my ad on Gumtree for the Falcon ute. $2490 is a bit cheeky but why not? I'm not in a hurry to sell it. So we'll see what happens. Funny innit, a basic flat bed ute with no air, no central locking, no power steering, no Sunraysia wheels, no this and no that sells for more than my flash Falcon with all the goodies and twice the power! Supply and demand, dear Breth. Utes like the Falcon are a dime a dozen and there's a million of 'em out there. Not too many with the quad headlights though... and 12 months rego... and a canopy.

By the way, I won't be putting the camper on the back of the truck until I've attended to various matters like a full service and condition report, bullbar, and rear suspension beef up. Then it'll be ready to load the camper, take it to an electrician to instal deep cycle batteries and a 240v inverter (and if I have enough money, a second solar panel), and then to a plumber to check the gas fittings and instal a gas cylinder. AND THEN I'll have no excuse but to give the whole shebang a road test and go camping somewhere, even for a practice run... maybe a few days up or down the coast. Stay tuned for the bulletin!

And that's it for Christmas day, ladies and genitals. The world can go back to normal now. I can't say life has been routine here... there are two utes in the backyard, one of which is for sale. Christmas dinner for me will be the usual hehe, but it doesn't bother me. It's different for most folks, of course. Oregon Richie and Becky have decorated their house a little and earlier today Richie was busy wrapping prezzies. This will be their first Christmas together as a married couple. Becky is thrilled with the traditional fireplace and a white Christmas. NC Art will be celebrating with his son and his family. Not sure what BR João, SF Bill and TX Greg will be doing. Ohio Jace will be celebrating with June and their sons (I think) plus the neighbors and a million kids. Francois will be with his daughter. And me? I've got my Waffle. Gary

December 24, 2012. Here we are, Christmas Eve, 2012, the day Santa and the reindeer do their thing and deliver prezzies all over the world. Mine is due a little early... 11am. Last night, Steve W wrote and was worried that I'd settled for second best; that I was impetuous. He's right of course, about being impetuous. I seriously blew it with Bluey (no pun intended) and then again with Das Busse. So I went to bed thinking I might have done it again.

This morning, I did a Google search for slide-on campers sitting on smallish trucks like the Courier to satisfy myself that it's the right kinda vehicle for the job at hand. I still have 3 hours before I hand over the money, ya know. So here's what I found... and I feel better now:

The camper with the guy setting up the awning is like mine, which also has a second awning at the rear (where my door is). Anyway, all those trucks are similar to the Courier and seem to be quite at home carrying their campers. Three of them have standard wheels and tires too. By the way, the difference between the tare weight of the Courier (unladen) @1300kgs and its Gross Vehicle Mass @ 2530kgs is 1220kgs, which is what it is able to legally carry. (That's about 1.2 ton). The engine is 2.6 liter petrol, 4 in line, with 92kW (123hp).

The thing about the camper and the Courier is that they were like two lost souls looking for a mate. When they're "married", so to speak, they'll be transformed into a single complementary unit called a motorhome. Albeit smallish, but a motorhome nonetheless. And that, ladies and genitals, is exactly what will make the Odyssey possible. Oregon Richie congratulated me for at last find the missing piece of the puzzle at a good price and also mentioned the color white. It'll suit the color of the camper. Can you imagine what it would have looked like if the ute had been yellow or orange or blue? Oh yes... before I fergit, the Courier on auction in Sydney last night eventually sold for $3550, so I did okay @ $2500. It also didn't have power steering.

SF Bill wrote: I know this is unsolicited and probably unwelcomed, but you should really sit down and think seriously on what you want and can get in a vehicle for your oddessy, 'cause at this rate, you're going to keep spending money on the vehicle and not get going.  I haven't checked on your spending for a vehicle but it seems like you have spent a ton of money and not liked what you bought.  Time to get practical and serious.

Quite right, Bill, and I agree. It's been an expensive lesson in what NOT to do. But it hasn't all been bad. The camper was a great buy; half the price of others like it that were unrenovated. Mine has a new interior, 2 awnings, new wiring, solar, and air con, plus heaps of internal and external storage. Buying the Falcon ute was unfortunate because it has a tub tray instead of a flat tray, but I bought the ute before I bought the camper. The good news is I can sell the Falcon and use the proceeds to fit the Courier with a used bull bar and other things it needs for the Odyssey. I might even have a bit left over for a second solar panel.

Anyway, it's all part of the story, Bill. Imagine a story like this: Fred sells Sydney home for a million bucks, buys a $200,000 motorhome and puts the rest in the bank. Then Fred sets off around Australia with no problems and plenty of cash. What a great story that is. Compelling reading. Hehe. How many fellow travellers do you think I'll meet on the Odyssey who are pensioners driving a 20 y/o ute carrying a 30 y/o camper and living on $400 a week? My bet is not one. $400 wouldn't even pay for one week's rent in a decent caravan park. Fact is, I'm doing the impossible. All those gray nomads you hear about aren't pensioners. They're all self-funded retirees with late model rigs. They haven't made the same mistakes I have because they didn't need to.

Yes, it's the old if I knew then what I know now trick. And here's something else to think about: What if the mistakes I've made thus far pale into insignificance compared to the mistakes I'm destined to make on the Odyssey? This ain't no bus trip staying in motels ya know. Any sane person would be scared out of his wits faced with the prospect of doing what I'm gonna do, especially given my age and health issues. So why am I doing it? Cos I wanna meet one of these guys. And also one of these guys. And have a cold beer at the Toompine pub. And maybe even strike it rich one day

Well, it's a done deal. Alex was here and we did the paperwork, then I paid him in cash. He repeated what he said yesterday, that he hadn't expected a buyer wanting to go around Oz. So he got a little worried before he left home this morning, and checked the thermostat (which he replaced about 3 months ago) to see if it was working properly. Hehe. He also gave me $5 to get an extra key cut, and two large containers of radiator coolant. "I bought those for you." His wife came to the fence and yelled, "Alex! You've got 7 minutes to get to work!" He's a barman at the sailing club just up the road, right on the river bank (where I had the heart attack back in 2002). As he left, he said to me, "And if you have any trouble, just let me know. You've got my number and you know where I am. I'll look after you, mate." So there ya go... he's worried about me hehe. But I appreciate it. He's a good bloke.

In all the excitement and rush, I forgot to take a few pics of the handover. Oh well... I'll take some pics of the ute later. Might even take her for a bit of a spin up the highway as well.

Matter of fact, I'm back. The ute runs pretty well. No strange noises (unless you count the squeak in one of the side walls of the tray). It's a hot day (30C) but I wasn't uncomfortable without air con and the windows open. It's also quite windy and the thing got blown around a bit on long exposed bridge spans with no weight in the tray. She whizzes along at 100kph no probs, but I kept looking for an extra gear. Gotta get used to that low gearing, even in 5th. Steering is heavy but tight - no play. As to the lack of power steering, Tough Titties didn't have it either but I solved that prob with extra air in the front tires. The ute feels solid and tough (I've read owner reports that say you can't kill the things even with the roughest treatment). The gearbox is a delight to use, and precise. The clutch is heavy duty. Brakes are great. Starts easy, idles smoothly, revs willingly. And the driving position is comfortable. So all in all, a pretty good little truck.

NC Art doesn't believe me, hehe. OK, go shake your old bones all to hell in an underpowered olden Ford rattler. Your choice!

I took a few pics of the ute in a riverside parking area and made an album

NC Art also had this to say about the gun issue in the US: Yep, the NRA executive v-p made a really sweet speech. Those guys are so warped that civil society means shoot that bastard before he can shoot you. The NRA want concealed carry guns legalized in schools, churches, malls, public parks and everywhere folks congregate to socialize, shop, worship or party. The hell of it is that they believe that crap fervently as a religious sect. Won’t it be great for teaching kids that schoolyard disagreements are easily settled with a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. I had a note from my former eye doctor saying he would not support any law restraining free ownership of guns. I asked him if the human world had hit the limits of evolution and was now de-voluting  into savage, brutish primitive cave clans. He hasn’t answered.

The evolutionary aspect crossed my mind too... the fact that the evolutionary curve doesn't seem to apply equally to all members of the human race. Didn't that happen once before with Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens?

Here's a great Christmas story from the Beeb: Henry Romp has been in the Christmas tree-selling business since he was born. As an infant he was taken from the family home in Vermont to New York's West Village and he has been coming there every holiday season since. Situated on the corner of Jane Street and 8th Avenue, the Romps have been a fixture in the neighbourhood from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve for the past 25 years. The BBC spent a day with Henry in Manhattan where he delivers Christmas trees in the back of a Porsche. Click here for the vid.

Getting close to wrap time again. Later I'll close the Donations page for the ute. Didn't need $5000 as it turned out, only half that. I'll thank those who contributed to the "cause" personally. Then I'll think about an ad for the sale of the Falcon. Things are pretty slow out there in buyer land so it's a good thing I'm not in a hurry. And then? Well, a bit of telly I suppose as long as it's not all carols or santa or Bing Crosby or whatever. Eeek! 

Because of the holiday period starting tomorrow, I withdrew cash from the bank this morning early to avoid the rush... (yeah, right...I got caught in the rush anyway) instead of doing a bank transfer on line. Alex wanted his folding stuff before Christmas. So that left me with $27 in my savings account hehe. But that's okay... I've got a bit in the wallet and a little stashed away elsewhere. I dunno why I mentioned that... I think there was something else I was gonna add but I've forgotten. It's hot and I'm buggered.

Oh yes! Just remembered... BR João wrote: You’re right. It’s obvious but never asked: why Christmas decoration in places like Australia or Brazil seems to come direct from Lapland? I’m always astonished with the amount of money shopping malls probably spend with such snowy decoration. Last weekend I committed the imprudence of visit one of them to buy some gifts. They have a four-story tall Christmas tree, something like a small Scandinavian village where Santa is supposed to live, a little train for children visit the “village” in a circular line (for a small fee, of course) and the inevitable guy in a claustrophobic Santa Claus costume. If he goes off the conditioned air of the mall for five minutes he’ll probably die of insolation.  It will be logical if they save all that money and transform it in discounts on the goods. But I think my old logic became completely illogical nowadays.

Well, Christmas isn’t about logic, so I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope you could be in new and interesting places for all future Christmases during the Odyssey.

Thanks, João. All the best to you, too, and gracias for being such a good friend over the years. João sent this graphic: Gary

December 23, 2012. There's a lotta pressure at this time of year to be with family and friends and to join in the spirit of goodwill and much merriment. People who are normally content to be on their own (as opposed to being lonely) are continually pestered by others who feel compelled to wish them Merry Christmas whether they want one or not. Charity groups knock on their doors and invite them to community gatherings so they won't be alone on a day when being alone is socially unacceptable. Well, I for one wouldn't be caught dead at one of those community functions for the dysfunctional. Cheer schmeer.

The other day at the shopping mall I watched the bustling crowd stocking up on party foods, last minute gifts, Christmas decorations and other non-essentials. I walked out with milk, eggs, yoghurt, a bit of fruit and a bottle of mouthwash. The beaches around here are crowded with holidaymakers camped just inches from their new neighbors. Locals are inviting people they don't particularly care for to their backyard barbies just to make up the numbers. At the foot of thousands of plastic Christmas trees covered in cheap Indian tinsel are gifts wrapped in pretty paper decorated with all things northern hemispherical containing an assortment of useless gadgets purchased at nickle and dime stores... things you would NEVER buy for yourself in a fit.

I don't understand it at all, and I refuse to get caught up in the almost obligatory festive razzamatazz.

The other day at the dentist, I was bitching about having to blitz all my food when the subject got around to custard. Remember Custard's last stand? Anyway, the receptionist asked if I'd tried brandy custard. It's available in the dairy section at the supermarket but I doubt it's real brandy. But yesterday I remembered having bought a flask of brandy years ago when I was into making cakes and pecan pies. So I put half a nip into a tub of custard and stirred it in. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllll! What a difference! Boring old custard was transformed into a gourmet treat! Yum! 

I'm a tad tempted to put a bit of brandy in my raspberry smoothie but I suppose I better not.

Just back from Taree. Where? Well, a mile or two from my place where Alex gave me a drink. Who's Alex? Well, Alex is a bloke who owns a Ford Courier ute which he has for sale. He expected a tradie to come looking but instead got me... an old codger who wants to travel Oz and who needs a flat tray ute to carry a camper. He was surprised to say the least. So I took it for a drive and was shell shocked. It handles like a truck, bouncing over rough patches of road because of the stiff springing. It's surprisingly low geared but, after a while, you get used to it. You can drop it into 4th (yes, it's a 5-speed manual) at quite low revs. No power steering, which was another shock. Damned heavy but not impossible. Maybe his tires needed a bit more air. No air conditioning either. On the poz side, it's in pretty good nick mechanically and has low mileage (165,000kms - a bit over 100,000mls). Also no rust. The interior is fair. There's a tear in the driver's side of the bench seat but it's covered by a sheepskin cover, and a small crack in the dash.

Sooooo, now that I'm slowly recovering from the shock of driving such a bone-shaker (compared to the Ford's smooth car-like ride and 6 cylinder power), I'm realizing what I'm getting myself into here. But it's better happening here in Taree rather than in Sydney or Brisbane or woop woop. Alex is looking for his rego papers and whatever while I'm back home thinking about it. The best thing about the ute is its location. I don't have to leave town! I'm 90% convinced I should buy it... after we haggle a bit, that is. $2500 is my budget... maybe a tad more if I'm pressed. Sure, there are others with air con and power steering but WHERE? Not just up the road, that's for sure. Besides, I'll be in the car for maybe 2 hours every other day. Camping is what the Odyssey is all about, not driving.

Actually, all truck type utes are bumpy when empty. Once the camper is on, it'll be a lot different. So whaddaya reckon? I suspect I got me a tray back ute. Not perfect, but whaddaya expect for $2500? I figure if it gets me underway, it'll do until I save up for something better. On the other hand, if the old girl does the job I might not worry about getting anything better.

So what's occuring in the rest of the world? From the Beeb: Syria has acted to consolidate its chemical weapons into "one or two" places to prevent rebels capturing them, Russia's foreign minister says. Sergei Lavrov said the weapons had previously been "scattered" across the country and they were "under control" for the time being. Mr Lavrov said the biggest threat from Syria's chemical weapons would be if militants managed to capture them. The US fears Syria may be tempted to use the weapons if its situation becomes more desperate. I wouldn't trust al-Assad as far as I could throw him.

A mob in Pakistan has stormed a police station and beaten to death a Muslim man accused of desecrating the Koran. The victim's body was then set alight, according to witnesses. Allah will be pleased, I'm sure. *sigh*

I see that compromise is unlikely between the NRA and Obama's goal to introduce tougher gun laws. I watched a bloke representing the NRA making a speech. He was talking about installing armed guards in schools. What kind of a society is he talking about? Do we really want kids to grow up thinking that guns are a normal and accepted part of living? That wearing a bullet-proof vest should be part of the school uniform? I believe Chicago, the home of Al Capone, has recently reduced its high murder rate by getting rid of guns, not getting more guns. The people responsible for the clean up are ex-thugs; people who've lived a life of crime and who know the score; people who can communicate with the younger crims and steer them in a better direction. While the gun lobby argues that fire can be fought with more fire, try doing that when it's the whole of society on fire.

Well, that's Sunday... at least Waffle-wise. Yesterday, I was talking about buying a Toyota early next month. Today, up popped a Ford Courier in my own backyard. There's another one for auction on eBay today but I don't think it's much better than the one in Taree. Besides, it's in Sydney and I suspect the bidding will exceed $2500. I'll know at 8:30 tonight. No I won't... well, I will but it doesn't matter. Alex just phoned and we did the deal. He's tired of potential buyers bitching about the lack of power steering and air so he said, "Okay, you can have it for $2500. Mind you, he's not short of a quid... two other cars, nice house, pool, etc. And I think our little chat today talking about the Odyssey and how poor I am (being a pensioner) helped him "do me a favor". We'll exchange the money and complete the paperwork tomorrow morning at 11. So, there ya go. G's got himself a a new truck. Gary

December 22, 2012. NC Art sent this one:

Speaking of shopping, I bought fresh raspberries yesterday. Couldn't see a price anywhere but when I checked the receipt they were six bucks for a tiny punnet! 125g (4.4oz). I intend to use them in smoothies.

We don't normally hear traffic reports around these parts but we're hearing them now. The holiday rush is on and the highways are jam packed with vacationers taking their annual break. The shops and car parks are overcrowded and it's BEDLAM! I hate crowds. I'm sure most country people feel the same. Soooo, on the Odyssey it'll make sense to avoid the coastal areas during holiday season and head inland to quiet little hamlets and riverside campsites. There was a bloke on radio talking about exactly that the other day; visiting quaint villages with their historic architecture and lovely old pubs. Here's a pub where a few patrons have hung their hats... and left them there.

From the Beeb: The US observes a moment of silence one week after the Connecticut school shooting, as a leading gun lobby group rejects calls for gun control. I heard one gun lobbyist argue that we don't ban cars because they kill people. True. But what would happen if all cars were taken off the road? The country would stop. He's comparing apples with oranges. 

South Korean pop star Psy's Gangnam Style video has become the first clip to attract more than one billion views on YouTube. Whatever blows your hair back, as Cody used to say. My Sydney vid with the scratchy fiddler is now about 320 views hehe.

US President Barack Obama has nominated Senator John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as his next secretary of state. Mr Obama said Mr Kerry's "entire life" prepared him for the role, and praised him for the "respect and confidence" he has earned from world leaders. Mr Kerry ran as Democratic presidential candidate in 2004 and is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Well, this Toyota ute could very well be the one to start the new year. I emailed the owner (a salvage yard in Sydney) to ask about the engine and tray. It's a 2.4 liter (I assume petrol - they would have mentioned diesel otherwise) 75kW (103hp) and the tray size is perfect for the camper. Mileage is only 164,000kms (102,000mls). They're closed from 5 this afternoon and reopen January 7, which gives me another pay day in between. Rego expires January 21 so I can drive it back to Taree with two weeks to have it inspected and re-registered. In the meantime, I can sell the Ford (I'm only allowed free rego on one vehicle). I reckon I can scratch $3000-ish together by the 7th. Yeah? The ute certainly looks clean and presentable judging by the photos. Is that a missing door handle on the passenger side interior? Oh well... And I can add a bullbar to the list.

So that's made me a bit more chirpy. I was beginning to get a little weary of all the ute shopping and tire kicking. And now it's feet-up time again with a bit of telly and blitzed soup. Gelato for dessert. Gary

December 21, 2012. Check out the pics I've added to my favs on Red Bubble lately. There are some really great shots.

And speaking of pics, I found this series of a camper (same model as mine but minus the storage bins at the sides and below) sitting on the back of a Ford tray-back ute. This camper is designed for a tub tray so it looks a bit untidy on a flat tray, but it'll give you an idea of what mine will look like. The extra storage box on mine will make my camper sit about a foot higher. The guy wants $12,000 for the combo. He's gotta be kidding. 

Meanwhile, TX Greg wrote: Gary, you shouldn't be laughing at little old ladies. LOL, HAHA, HEHE :) So who's laughing? She nicked my place in the queue! In any case, I've gotta go back to the PO today with my own box cos they didn't have one to fit the Sony.

Oregon Richie wrote: It is of course interesting about different countries attitudes towards gun control, and while there are similarities there are also many profound differences.  The approach that OZ has to both the gun issue and social issues such as health services and such is very different.  I think I recall seeing a quote recently of one Aussie pol who said something like "not wanting to import that aspect of American culture to our country".  True.  Most Americans believe they are on the top of the heap in just about everything compared to every other country on Earth, and are grated when it is proven to not be true.  Guns?  Assault weapons?  "It's all in the American psyche... the British, the Australians, even the Irish don't even begin to understand it....", is one thing I mentioned yesterday.  But being the resident square peg I am merely ridiculed and treated with the usual low-grade contempt about just about everything but happily for me I could really care less.

Richie works with a couple of rednecks. We have them here too ya know but in less quantity. Coincidentally, on the subject of loonies, SF Bill just sent this link to a road rage incident that defies description. I thought only US drivers were this crazy, but I have to admit I haven't heard of one this bad in the US.  Now imagine that scenario if that madman had had a gun in his glove box.

The other day I needed a cardboard box to post something and was met with people too busy to care until I finally found a bloke in the storeroom of the manchester shop. This time I went to Sam's Warehouse because they have a lot of cheap imports of all sizes and I figured I had a good chance of finding the right size box. (The last time I had to cut the box to size). So I walked to the back of the store and a young bloke there asked if he could help. Well, whaddaya know. I had my tape measure with me and we went into a back room (sounds like something from a MrB story hehe) where the young bloke started showing me various boxes some of which were too big or too small. He was most helpful and I was impressed. Within a minute or two he'd found a box which was just right. "You're a champion, mate," I said, and thanked him. "I was worried you wouldn't be able to understand me with no bloody teeth." "My dad is in his 60s and he's got no teeth either, and I've been living with him for 23 years... so I'm used to it." Now there's a bloke with a great attitude, and I reckon that'll do for my Christmas gift. Actually, he wished me Merry Christmas and I turned to him: "How the hell do you expect me to have a Merry Christmas with no teeth?" "You're just like my dad." Hehe.

The ute thing has died down. I think I've looked at just about every ute in Australia on the net. They're either too expensive, too far away, too this or too that. I'm keeping an eye on this one but I expect the bidding to skyrocket when it gets serious. I like his spelling of "raidiatore" hehe. You find that a lot of ebay and Gumtree... peeps who can't spell for nuts.

How about this one? toyota hilux 4x2 1990  2.4 desial    great little ute is redgo but selling no redgo went thorw roady few weeksback and pasted it it runs well 4 it age sit on dollar all day no nosies ect had rebuld on motor few moths back. I like desial hehe... and 'redgo' (registration)... 'went thorw roady' means it went through a road test... 'pasted it' means it passed... 'nosies' is dyslexic, I think, as is 'moths' for months and 'rebuld' for rebuild. 

So it appears that Santa won't be bringing me a ute for Christmas. Never mind. BTW, it's been cooler, a bit wet but comfortable today. Yesterday was 37C (98.6F) which happens to also be the normal human body temperature. It was enough to cause a rash of bushfires including one on the outskirts of Sydney which was deliberately lit. Bastards. But they got 'em. Gary

December 20, 2012. Am I the owner of a Toyota? No. I stopped bidding at $2600. I could have gone to $3000 but things are a bit tight. It sold for $2850. Next! Oh... and sure enough, it was a late bidder who snuck in with less than two minutes to go and upped the ante at the last minute, leaving the previous bidder wondering what the hell happened.

When I think back to the time I scratched around for $4700 to buy the camper, I can't believe I actually did it! Even then, I was only successful because the winning bidder reneged and left me holding the baby, so to speak. AND THEN I managed to convince the seller to deliver the thing to my house. Hehe. Miracles do happen ya know.

Speaking of sold, my ice box sold for $50 which ain't too bad, and my Sony portable stereo sold for $57 which surprised me. I thought I'd be lucky to get $20 for it. Anyway, it's not about making a profit, it's about getting rid of stuff that won't be coming on the Odyssey. And there's still quite a lot to go!

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama calls for "concrete proposals" on gun control by the end of January, saying "words need to lead to action". He could be criticized for not doing anything about gun control during his first term. Better late than never, though, and he doesn't have to worry about another term. Interesting observations from Aussie commentators last night on The Drum about the similarities between Australian and American cultures, except for gun ownership. The laws in the US, and the concept of a gun in every home is inconcievable to us. There's already talk in the States about arming teachers and giving them anti-terrorist training. Sheesh.

Three Swedish tourists had a surprise while swimming in a national park in Australia when a crocodile leapt from rocks landing on one of them.

NC Art sent this link to a very interesting and creative commercial. See if you can guess what the commercial is for before all is revealed at the end.

Yes, I've been sniffing around eBay and Gumtree for utes. There's one in Melbourne that looks pretty good at my kinda price. Mitsubishi diesel 4WD. But the prob with interstate cars is GETTING there!

The bloke who bought the ice box just arrived, and I answered the door shirtless and toothless. So there goes my image! I look anorexic and sound even worse... like I'm about to cark it any second. Hehe. I think he was a bit embarrassed. Oh well... Which reminds me, I was standing in a long queue at the post office when a little old lady with a cane approached. The lady in front of me offered the LOL her place in the queue: "You shouldn't be standing, especially if you're using a cane!" Then she prodded the three people in front and made them stand back so that the LOL ended up at the head of the queue. I felt like saying to the younger woman, "Hey, listen, I'm recovering from a major cancer operation, radiation therapy, I've just had 20 teeth pulled, and I weigh a miserable 50 kilos! What about putting ME in front of the damn queue?" Next time I'll bring my cane. I bought 3 of them a while ago for bushwalking and knocking down spider webs in the bush. They're also useful for prodding firewood to make sure it's not something that bites.

Anyway, it's about time I transferred this skinny, bony butt to something more comfortable and watched a bit of telly before I try and shovel something nutritious down the screech. Gary

December 19, 2012. I criticized the Bravo swap bloke too quickly. He did write last night to say he'd thought about swapping his ute for mine but decided on a manual instead of an auto. Fair enough. At least he let me know.

That Ford Courier spacecab ute for auction in Sydney yesterday sold for $2500 which was a great price. Had the tray been a bit bigger it would have been MINE! Oh well... I'll bid on the Toyota diesel later today and see how that goes.

The other day I mentioned Obama and how some people rationalize contradictions. This morning, a Red Bubbler sent me these exchanges between teachers and students:

Teacher: Why are you late?
Student: Class started before I got here.

Teacher: Why are you doing your math mutiplication on the floor?
Student: You told me to do it without tables.

Teacher: How do you spell crocodile?
Student: Krokodile.
Teacher: No, that's incorrect.
Student: Maybe it is but you asked how I spell it.

Teacher: What is the formula for water?
Student: HIJKLMNO.
Teacher: What are you talking about?
Student: H to O.

Teacher: Name one important thing we have today that we didn't have 10 years ago.
Student: Me!

Teacher: Why do you always get so dirty?
Student: I'm closer to the ground than you are.

Teacher: George Washington not only chopped down the cherry tree but also admitted it. Now, why do you think his father didn't punish him?
Student: George was still holding the axe.

Teacher: Do you say your prayers before eating?
Student: I don't have to... my mom is a good cook.

Teacher: Your composition on My Dog is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
Student: No, sir, it's the same dog.

Teacher: What do you call a person who keeps talking when people are no longer interested?
Student: A teacher.

Here's a link from TX Greg to a vid about a bloke who hay baled himself.

Back from another squirt and vacuum. Nancy says it's looking okay... slow but okay. Now I get a break for a week and go back on the 27th.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama wants to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, the White House says, following the killings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut. For the life of me, I can't understand why any normal person living in a civilized society would want one of those things in the first place.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's has raised the credit rating of Greece's sovereign debt by six levels, praising the "strong determination" of fellow eurozone countries to help it stay as a member state. S&P has increased Greece's rating from "selective default" to "B-minus". The agency also praised the continuing efforts by Greece's government to cut its spending. That's encouraging.

By the way, I transferred 200USD from Paypal to my regular bank account the other day and ended up with 184AUD. Twelve years ago, when I was paid in USD it almost doubled when converted to AUD. How times have changed.

Martin Scorsese is set to make a TV documentary about the former president of the United States Bill Clinton. HBO has announced the award-winning director will have full input from the Democrat, who left office in January 2001 having served his second term. Scorsese said in a statement that Clinton "continues to shape the political dialogue" worldwide. Amazing innit? GWB has exited stage left while Bill is still tap dancing to rave reviews.

Before I fergit, Paul, the radiator repair bloke down the road has a new sign out front of his shop: The Best Place To Take A Leak.

Well, another slow day but it'll liven up a bit later when I start bidding on the Toyota. The auction ends at 9pm ( about 4 hours from now). A little while ago the bidding reached just over $2000 but the reserve still hasn't been met. I suspect the reserve is between $2500 and $3000. I'm willing to part with $2500-ish but there are a couple of other keen bidders so I reckon it'll be tight. I'm not sure why some people bid early... the action doesn't really begin to happen until the final 10 to 15 minutes. I've seen auctions where 2 or 3 bidders will keep upping the ante by relatively small increments and then, with a minute or two to go, a bidder from left field suddenly pounces and blitzes the lot of them. Hopefully, that'll be me. Gary

December 18, 2012. Well, I reckon I can kiss the Mazda B2500 diesel swap goodbye. Not a peep from the owner since the other day. Bugger 'im.

So the plan now is to bid on the Toyota diesel at Maitland tomorrow (the auction ends 9pm). I figure it's worth max $3000 which I can rustle up by a bit of juggling. 375,000kms (233,000mls) on the clock is a lot but it's a diesel and the guy says the oil and filter have been changed "religiously" every 5000kms. If I'm successful, then I'll sell the Ford. If not, no biggie. There'll be another opportunity another day. I just did a bit of detective work and it's interesting that the owner has the Toyota for sale elsewhere at $3500. His only reason for selling is "I can't fit my kids in it". Either his kids are too fat or he's talking about the single cab. :)

So that's the state of the nation at the mo. From the Beeb: Two senators backed by the US gun lobby call for changes to firearms laws, as the first victims of the Connecticut shootings are laid to rest. I watched Obama's speech last night. He read out the first names of the victims and said, "God has taken them home." Then he went on about "we must never allow carnage like this to become routine". So one minute it's God taking his children home and the next it's carnage. People who believe in God are funny like that. They're able to rationalize contradictions.

Meanwhile, I heard comments on telly last night about Obama leading the way to gun reform in the US. They say he'll never beat the gun lobby if he engages in direct confrontation. They only way to successfully reduce the rate of killings by firearms is to work in conjunction with the lobby. They said gun ownership in the US is embedded deep within the American psyche, and is something that can't be changed. The only way to deal with it is to reach a compromise. When semi-automatic weapons were banned in Oz after the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, there were 3 million guns in Oz. America has 300 million.

Good ol' TX Greg came to the rescue yesterday when he explained the purpose of a hose protruding from the front wall of the camper. I thought it was for filling the water tank. Nope. It's the town water hose. Thilly me. But now I vaguely remember the previous owner telling me that. Just around the corner from the hose is a plastic lid with "Water" printed on it. Doh! I suppose I'll have my fair share of embarrassing novice moments when I eventually set sail.

I spotted another ute... a 1977 Ford Courier Supercab for auction in Sydney. Unregistered... been in storage 2 years... but going cheap. 3 liter, 5 speed, petrol/LPG, 220,000 kms and in pretty good nick. Problem? The tray is about 8" too narrow and 8" too short. DAMN! 

Nothing much else is happening around here. Sue has at least one fall a day, usually 2 or 3. I dunno why she doesn't simply stay on the floor and crawl around the house. Lindsay keeps telling her to be more careful but she doesn't remember things. It's all getting rather tiresome with those two.

I spent another $100+ on medications today. Then Stan the Lawn Man turned up despite no rain for ages and practically nothing to mow.

So it's all a bit boring, actually, other than buggerizing around with all this ute business. If I were mature and sensible, I'd save up a bit more so that I have a better choice. But once I get a bee in my bonnet, I become single minded... and we all know where that has led me in the past. But you know what they say about changing spots and new tricks.

I bought a little shaved pastrami today to chop and add to my whizzed soup, so that'll be cool. Think of me when you sit down to Christmas dinner with all the fixins. *Sigh* Gary

December 17, 2012. As usual I rushed in where angles fear to tread yesterday. I've since discovered that the Bravo road test I read was for a 1999 model. The 1996 model doesn't have a turbo and is only 64kW (85hp). Oh well... The '96 is made in Japan whereas the later models are made in Thailand. I also read some owner reports from Britain who say the Bravo is as tough as nails and can handle anything you throw at it. So it seems I won't be breaking any land speed records on the Odyssey... that's if the bloke from Wollongong comes through with the deal. It's possible he might have remeasured the tray and discovered it's the wrong size.

Here's another ute with a tray the right size. It's a Toyota diesel.

Isn't limbo a frustrating place to be? She loves me, she loves me not. It's been that way all year, and still is. Did the operation get all the cancer? When will I be able to speak properly again? When will I be able to eat properly again? How long will the food tube be there? Will the lymphadema disappear or will it be with me forever? Is the radio therapy working? Is there any residual cancer left? Are my teeth staying or going? When can I get my dentures fitted? How long will the exposed bone take to heal? And on and on it goes.

Do I have a good feeling about 2013? Yep. Ever optimistic, that's me.

Oregon Richie sent a link to a heated argument between Piers Morgan and a gun lobbyist about gun control in the US following the tragic shooting in Connecticut. There were the usual arguments on both sides... more guns means more killings, more guns means less killings... with no side scoring any points. But I did gather that the majority of Americans favor stricter gun control. The problem is the gun lobby. Despite being a minority group, it is a very powerful and influential group, hence no change in the status quo.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama arrives in the Connecticut community devastated by the shootings at an elementary school that left 26 people dead. I don't envy him that job. What does a leader say to those crushed people, especially less than 2 weeks from Christmas?

An encrypted World War II message found in a fire place strapped to the remains of a dead carrier pigeon may have been cracked by a Canadian enthusiast. Remember that story? According to the Canadian, experts have been "over thinking" the code, which is not all that complex.

One thing I've noticed about private sellers/buyers (on eBay and elsewhere) is that they say things they don't mean. They're not in business so they feel no obligation towards the person they're dealing with. They have nothing to lose if they change their mind or renege. One seller listed his ute for the third time because two buyers reneged after saying they couldn't raise the cash. Buyers are liars? One seller who told me his auction fell through promised to get back to me with the dimensions of his ute tray. He hasn't. The bloke with the Bravo diesel was all excited yesterday and said he'd be in touch. He hasn't.

To make matters worse there's a Toyota ute for sale in Taree at a good price but it's a twin cab and the tray is a foot short. Dangit. I've seen campers that overhang the rear of the tray but a foot seems a bit much.

NC Art sent this pic... "How to turn a number 1 into a number 2".

Back from another squirt and vacuum from Nancy. She says she's using a less aggressive form of treatment than Liam uses. He's all for the anaesthetic and ripping stuff out. But Nancy wants to avoid anaesthetic because it slows blood flow and mine's already too slow. So she chips away at dead exposed bone a little at a time and, so far, it's encouraging the gum to grow back over the remaining bone. Just a millimeter or two at a time but it's working. She says it'll take months but compared to some people who have this condition for many years, months is cool with me.

Anyway, there goes an uneventful day ute-wise. Lots of talk and no action. I'll bid on the Toyota diesel linked above. It's not 4WD but ya can't have everything. The diesel is 2.8 liters, so it's a bit herbier than the Bravo. Bidding ends in 2 days but I'm sure it'll go a lot higher than where it's at at the mo. Maitland is 3 hours from Taree by train (leaves 11am, arrives 2pm). Que sera sera. Gary

December 16, 2012. Steve W wrote to say his best mate in CA (suffering from terminal cancer) died 4 days after Steve arrived. Very sad, but at least Steve had the opportunity to say goodbye, and his mate had the opportunity to realize what a loyal friend he had in Steve, willing to travel half way around the world to be with him. After I offered my condolences, Steve replied: Sometimes life sucks. Indeed it does, and maybe it needs to be that way in order for us to appreciate the good things.

I watched a program last night about the nouveau riche in China, the millionaires and billionaires driving their Lamborghinis and Ferraris and living the high life. During the last 20 years, Beijing has been totally transformed with skyscrapers mushrooming everywhere. The program showed one 32 storey tower being erected in just weeks - made of prefrabricated steel and concrete components. Some of the architecture is radical as well as stunning. An interesting observation was that 80% of China's output is consumed within the country's own borders.

A lot of the news stories last night focused on the mass shooting of 20 children and 6 adults in Connecticut. The President made an emotional speech and said positive action is needed to curb the ongoing tragedies. How on earth can the gun lobby justify the current gun laws in the US? The news stories said America is in shock. Shock? There have been 4 shootings this year alone. How can people be in shock when such unspeakable acts occur with such regularity and predictability?

Some time ago I sent Justin a link to a vid of some soldiers who gave a rifle to their pet chimpanzee as a joke. The chimp knew what the trigger was for and started firing the rifle randomly, sending soldiers scurrying in all directions. Justin said such an irresponsible act was inappropriate for his blog. But that's what America is doing with its guns... giving them to chimpanzees.

From the Beeb: A profile of Adam Lanza, the suspected gunman.

The bloke who's looking to swap his Bravo 4x4 diesel for a Ford ute wrote and said he could be "convinced" that mine is worthwhile. Convinced? Who the hell does he think he is? He says he would prefer a manual gearbox. Anyway, I won't be doing any "convincing". If he wants to swap, then swap. Otherwise cut the crap. I've calmed down since yesterday. There's a million utes out there and I'm not in a desperate hurry. Nonetheless, I'll be glad when this situation is resolved and I can focus on other things.

Wait a sec! I've just fallen in love!

Been a busy day! I'm getting replies from questions I've asked sellers on eBay about tray size etc. One bloke just wrote to say his auction fell through and wants to know if I'm still interested. I am but I need to know the tray measurements. Meanwhile, the bloke with the 4x4 Bravo who wants to swap for a Ford ute thinks mine "looks excellent!" He sounds pretty excited. He thinks his tray is 2400 x 1900 which is perfect. But he's gonna remeasure later today to be sure and "be in touch". TX Greg wrote to say: That Mazda does look sharp and a bonus it's a diesel and a 4X4 :) You're not wrong, Narelle. Apparently there's a prob with the diff when in 4WD but I can have that checked out. I'm not all that keen on taking rough roads on the Odyssey but having 4X4 will certainly be an advantage, as will diesel which is much more economical than petrol. Diesels aren't Ferraris but they've got that extra grunt. Besides, I'm too bloody ancient to be whizzing around like a pimply teen.

Sooooooo, with a bit of luck, the swap will go ahead with a minimum of cash. It's the perfect solution rather than all that buying/selling bullshit. Getting together will be a bit of a hassle. He's in Wollongong, about an hour south of Sydney.

Just read a road test for the B2500 diesel. 86kW (115hp) at 3500rpm, and if mine (mine already?) is the same as the one tested, it has a tacho. And a turbo! But I'm not sure. It scored well in handling, cruising, comfort, braking, hill-climbing and economy. Yes, I know... getting carried away again. Gotta stop that. Yeah, right. This is a big chunk of the dream we're talking about here, baby, and it's difficult to think about anything else.

How about I randomly choose a camp ground from the Camps book and do a Google? Hmmm, this look interesting... Wog Wog. With a name like that it's gotta be cool. Well, no shortage of trees. Anything else? More trees and people! Here's the actual camp ground beside a lake. Hmmm, looks a bit adventurous to me... better bring the hiking boots. Maybe I can find something a little more geriatric friendly.

How about Booti Booti? This is The Ruins campground in Booti Booti national park. One bloke's got a boat so the lake there must be bigger than the one at Wog Wog. Here's another shot of The Ruins campground with someone blowing bubbles. And here's the local Boomerang Beach.

One more before I go. Let's take a look at Winnininnie in South Oz. Aren't they wonderful names? Great place for a picnic, right in the middle of the creek. Hmmm, looks a bit deserted to me but probably good for a rest stop with a sandwich for lunch and a cuppa. Well, at least we know that Winnininnie floods and has a bridge.

And now it's time for a wrap. Maybe later tonight or tomorrow I'll know if the bloke with the Bravo ute is fair dinkum or not. Meanwhile, I'm feeling rather peckish and looking forward to my whizzed soup hehe. Don't knock it... it tastes good. Gary

December 15, 2012. TX Greg wrote: Been trying to visualize what the camper would look like on top of a Ute. Found this pic where they added an extra axle for weight. When I look at that I cringe at what the center of gravity is going to be! I sure would not want a small width Mazda, but both of those Fords you found look pretty cool.

The ute in the photo is a later model Ford Falcon but with an extra axle. The angle of the photo is deceptive. Notice where the camper door is? Mine has a rear door which means mine is shorter. The tray on the ute in the photo has been extended to accommodate the longer camper. And I've just noticed something... the camper is slightly wider than the tray, which would make it easier to reverse between the legs. Hmmm. The reason the Mazda looks narrower is that it has a higher (boxier) cab than the Falcon, but if you notice the side overhang on the tray in the photo, the width is the same as the Mazda... about 6 inches narrower than the camper.

As to center of gravity, the bulk of the weight in my camper (such as batteries, water tank, etc) is at floor level or between the floor and the roof of the cab. Weight above the cab roof is negligible... just a box with a solar panel on top. The mattress is above the roof line, as is the fridge, but they don't weigh much.  There are cupboards at ceiling height but nothing heavy is stored there.

Meanwhile, the Mazda has been sold. However, I've learned something... the width of the storage box under the floor of my camper is about 3 inches (on each side) narrower than the width of the camper itself, which leaves a useful gap between the edge of the ute tray and the legs. By the way, if you think the camper in the photo sits high, mine will be 1 foot taller because of the extra storage box underneath. But the vast bulk of the weight is below the camper waistline. I think mine will also need a plastic bubble mounted on the wall above the cab to deflect the wind, and improve economy. Bottom line? I'd rather carry than tow.

Here's a go... a Bravo diesel 4x4 for swap. A clean swap would mean no cash outlay. I've emailed the bloke to ask if he's interested.

From the Beeb: Twenty children, six adults and the gunman die in a shooting attack at a primary school in the US state of Connecticut, police say. I was thinking the other day that it's probably about time there was another mass shooting in the US. While ever gun laws remain as they do in the US, this kinda thing will keep happening. Just the other day, Oregon Richie wrote: The shootout up near Portland was pretty horrific along with the usual arguments that there should be more sensible gun access and "control" programs or that every son of a bitch in town should be armed and be able to take a shot at whoever looks like a bad guy with ill intent.  Of course, it's NUTS.

A piano that features in the classic 1940s film Casablanca is sold for more than $600,000 (£370,000) at an auction in New York. You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss...

Online, English has become a common language for users from around the world. In the process, the language itself is changing. When America emerged from the ashes of a bruising war with Britain in 1814, the nation was far from united. Noah Webster thought that a common language would bring people together and help create a new identity that would make the country truly independent of the British. The internet is creating a similar language evolution, but at a much faster pace.

Well, after seeing the trade/swap ad on Gumtree for the Bravo, I decided to place a trade/swap ad for the Ute. The ad expires in 6 weeks so that's plenty of time for some bloke with a flat tray who wants a tub like mine to see it. It may work, it may not, but it only cost $2 and there's no pressure on me to sell my only means of transport before I get another set of wheels.

What was that about no pressure? This is terribly frustrating ya know. When I checked my ad, I saw a 2000 model Ford ute for sale for $2100 negotiable. Only 160,000 kms but unregistered. Dammit. Too much hassle going down to Maitland, organizing an inspection and pink slip and registering the thing before I could drive back. And I can't afford to ship it to Taree as well as pay for it without selling mine first. Grrrrrr! It'll be snapped up in no time at that price. I've seen the same model selling anywhere from 4 to 6 grand, and not as good! I'll be glad when all this auto shopping is over! If I still had all the money I've spent on Bluey, Das Busse and the Ute... nah, on second thoughts, let's not go there. Too painful.

Would anyone out there like to put me in charge of running their company finances? I don't charge much.

I wrote this thing for Red Bubble which took me quite a while. I had trouble with the ending but this is all I could think of. Oh well...

Well, I think I'm just about all ute-d out hehe. Got me a buyer for the ice chest though... a bloke from Taree. So I think I'll call it a day and watch a bit of telly before I fill the belly. Actually, I saw a pic of a skink on Red Bubble... it had grown a new tail. I wish I could do that. Mine has all but disappeared since I've lost so much weight. Gary

December 14, 2012. When I wrote to the owner of the Mazda Bravo yesterday to say the tray was the wrong size, and thanked her for taking the time and trouble to measure it, she wrote back: Bugger! : ) hope you find what your looking for. No troubles at all. Merry Xmas, Amanda. Sounds like she was hoping to sell the thing before Christmas.

TX Greg wrote: Will something as small as that Mazda, instead of a full size Ute, carry the weight of the camper plus what you load in there? Yep, no prob. The camper was designed for such a vehicle. The Mazda (and most utes of that size) are capable of carrying a ton (1000kgs). The camper weighs 3/4 of a ton (750kgs) empty. What Greg refers to as a "full-size Ute" is a truck in Oz, and most slide-ons are designed for the smaller utes. Larger motorhomes are bolted to the chassis. Mine is a two-person camper, so with only me on board I'll have heaps of room. And if I have to bring the porta potti inside during wet weather, there'll be nobody to bitch about it hehe. The camper floor is a tad under 8 feet long, and overall length (with cab-over) is a little over 11 feet. Sounds cramped but it ain't. The U-shape sofa is about 6' long and I can easily stretch out for a nap.

The great thing about the camper is that there's nothing to unfold or fold or set up before camping (except the side and rear awnings). Park and camp. That's it.

Breakfast! Banana smoothie with egg. And pills. Pills, pills, pills.

Mind you, buying a tray-back Ute now doesn't mean I'm gonna leave now. The new Ute will need to be checked over and anything that needs fixing fixed. There are still things I need like another solar panel (although that's not absolutely necessary at this point), new deep-cycle battery (or 2), gas cylinder, etc. And I still have medical/dental issues to attend to. And.... a whole bunch of stuff I need to get rid of before moving out. But with the camper sitting on a Ute and ready to rock and roll, I can take a few short trips around the hood to get used to the "lifestyle". No shortage of nice places on the Mid North Coast, dear Breth. Beaches, forests, mountains, you name it. And don't say snow.

From the Beeb: The annual Geminids meteor shower will reach its peak late on Thursday night and into early Friday morning. The meteors will appear to radiate from a point near the star Castor, in the constellation Gemini. In the Northern hemisphere, that will be westward and nearly overhead in the early hours of Friday. Sky watchers can expect an average of dozens of "shooting stars" per hour, made easier to see by darkness provided by the "new moon" phase. It won't be till midnight in the southern hem, dangit.

Iran says progress has been made at key talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Tehran. Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said the meeting had been constructive and more talks would be held back in Tehran next month. The IAEA has not commented, nor is it known whether it gained access to the Parchin military complex, as requested. The IAEA is investigating "possible military dimensions" to Iran's nuclear programme. Is that good news? Hopefully, it is.

Norman Joseph Woodland, who co-created the barcode, has died at his New Jersey home at the age of 91. Woodland worked with university classmate Bernard Silver to create the now ubiquitous thick-and-thin-line system in the 1940s. The system was patented in the US in 1952, a patent that was later sold for just $15,000 (£9,300). The modern-day barcode is estimated to be scanned more than five billion times every day. I remember when there was talk of the system being introduced into Aussie supermarkets, doing away with old fashioned cash registers and checkout chicks pressing buttons. Space age technology, wow! But I go back to the days when the local grocer used to wear a pencil behind his ear and did all the calculations on a notepad. 

First fruit smoothie time. Half a large banana, 2 cups watermelon, 1 peach, 2 large strawberries. Whizz. Hmmm, quite rich. I'm wondering if I should have added water or milk or something. Nah... there wasn't enough room in the jug anyway. But I can taste the individual fruits. Peeling the peach was a cinch. Boil a pot of water (while you're preparing all the other stuff), score bottom of peach with a large X, when water reaches boil, turn off heat but leave pot on stove, insert peach into water (enough to cover it), leave for 45 seconds, remove and place in cold water (I didn't have any ice water but it didn't matter). Peel skin from X. Too easy. Now I'm thinking it does need something to mellow the rich flavor... probably something like plain yoghurt or ice-cream. I'll check some recipes on the net to see what ideas there are out there.

After yesterday's dabble with the Mazda I'm tempted to go looking again but I better not. Got other things to do, like part with $300 for compulsory insurance when I re-register the Ute. That's money I'll never see again even when I sell it. It's locked into the registration. If I sold the Ute now, before the rego expires at the end of December, it would be the new owner's responsibility. By the same token, selling a vehicle with 12 months rego is a lot easier than selling one whose rego is about to expire.

Naturally, I'll take whatever make/model comes along provided it's in good nick but if I had the choice, this model Ford is the one I'd prefer. It  has the comfort and the grunt I'd like. But... we'll see what eventuates. Here's another one being sold by a dealer, and a bit dearer.

Down boy, don't rush into anything. Got plenty of time (and not enough cash). Meanwhile, I gotta Beetle as Cody used to say. Gary

December 13, 2012. Did I forget that yesterday was 12 12 12? Yes I did... until I was reminded by the news last night. Lots of people got married believing that it was their lucky day. One girl celebrating her 12th birthday was born at 12 midnight on 12 12 2000.

Meanwhile, on the subject of radio serials, NC Art commented: One of my childhood pleasures was the afternoon radio serials … an hour or more to while away. Among those remembered was Og: Son of Fire, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Lone Ranger, and more. Sounds of horses clopping along were provided by a chap playing along with the action by banging coconut half shells on a wooden board. Very realistic for boys caught up in the story. It worked in film too, even better. Except when sound was out of sync with on-screen action, good for laughs and cat calls.

Oz produced quite sophisticated radio serials during the war years because we were cut off from the rest of the world and had to rely on our own ingenuity. When television was introduced in 1956, most presenters and actors were radio professionals who made the transition. Radio was then left wondering what to do so it turned to music (top 40) and eventually talk-back.

I followed Art's advice last night and put the chunky soup through the blender. No round peas but what the hell. It was good, and certainly easy to consume. I'm thinking now that I can probably buy certain fruits I like and puree them.

I finally managed to upload pics to eBay this morning so now my portable Sony stereo and Techni Ice Box are up for auction. I don't need the stereo cos the camper has one built in, and the 60-liter ice box is too big. So it's goodbye to a couple more extraneous whatnots.

From the Beeb: The UN Security Council condemns North Korea for launching a missile in defiance of UN resolutions as a 'clear violation' for which the US says Pyongyang will face "consequences". I suppose the UN needs to make some sort of protest but I suspect it'll fall on deaf ears.

German luxury carmaker Porsche has said it has already beaten its annual record for most cars sold. It sold 128,978 cars worldwide in the 11 months to November - already beating the 118,868 sports cars sold in the whole of last year. Porsche marketing and sales chief Bernhard Maier said that last month alone was up 39% on November 2011. Demand came from China and the US, where there was 70% more demand for Porsches last month than in 2011. What was that about a fiscal cliff and a recession?

On last week's episode of Auction Room, a bloke sold his 1956 Porsche Speedster for $120,000, $30,000 below the reserve. It broke his heart but he's married with a young son so he finally had to let go of his carefree bachelor days.

Been checking utes again. This Mazda Bravo looks pretty good, and cheap. It has a ding in the fender but not a big prob. Mileage is low which is good. But I think the tray might be too small for camper. I've emailed the owner. If I can sell the Ford for $1500+ the changeover price should be less than a grand. Getting to Mudgee would be fun... overnight train to Sydney Central and another train to Mudgee, which is west of Taree. (The seller answered and as I suspected the tray is too narrow... 1.7m but I need a little over 1.8m. Dammit. That's about 6 inches too narrow, or 3 inches overhang on each side).

Meanwhile, João's Christmas prezzie arrived today. It's from Penguin Books. So it's a book, right? Nope, not a book. A penguin? Nope, not a penguin either. João knows I'm a lousy reader so he visualized me out in the Simpson Desert in the scorching midday sun, dragging my exhausted body across the burning sand by my fingernails, and figured I might need a stainless steel water bottle painted orange, with a facsimile of the cover of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Isn't that sweet? Dunno about water, though. I might think of something more interesting. Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness, João. I shall think of you every time I take a sip on the Odyssey... my own journey of self discovery. Wanna know who the real G is? Stick around for a few years.

By the way, I discovered last night on QI that words such as cool, groovy, wicked, hip, etc, go back a long way to the 20s and 30s and are a product of the jazz era. Dude actually comes from the late 19th century.

Back from shopping and spending $55 which is more than usual. But that includes fruit... bananas, watermelon, peaches and strawberries. Fruit smoothie comin' up! Handy hint: peel peaches by soaking in boiling water until skins loosen. I bought a heap of other stuff as well, including a kg of home brand nappy soak for $2.50 for the porta potti... that'll last for ages! Can't wait for my first dump. Hehe.

Five-ish again and all that jazz... time to soak up a bit of telly. I do like my news and current affairs ya know. It's my daily reminder of how little I know and how dumb I am hehe. Gary

December 12, 2012. NC Art wrote to say he does indeed remember Orson Welles and the panic caused by the announcement of a Martian invasion: Yeppo Gary,

    Art remembers the Mercury Theater broadcast of War of the Worlds very well. My Dad and I were in the living room listening to the radio (while I pretended to do homework). We knew from the git-go what was happening, but didn’t know until my oldest bro came home from a date and told us everyone was going nuts over a stupid radio program and wouldn’t listen to reason. I had read the story years before, and we thought it was a great radio presentation. It was right realistic I think, because my mom came in from the kitchen to ask if they were reporting a storm or something. Dad said it was just a play and that was all the household hysteria noted.

     Bro was dating a teacher who lived with several others in a rented home, all of whom were hysterical when Bro delivered his date. They had the radio on, and Bro listened a minute and tried to explain what it was. No good, they kept on wailing and shrieking. He got disgusted and came home. Actually, when the radio network discovered what was happening, there were frequent station breaks announcing the truth, but apparently mass hysteria made everyone too distraught to absorb sanity.

     [I was 12 years old and in the throes of testosterone rampant with a perpetual erection, but wasn’t THAT insane!]

Radio plays capitalized on what they called "Theater of the Mind"... imagination (or more correctly, a listener's willingness to believe in fantasy). Listening to Tarzan on the radio, I was convinced he was deep in an African jungle, hacking his way through the undergrowth whereas, in reality, he was standing in a Sydney studio behind a microphone while the sound effects bloke waved a few branches around and played tapes of exotic bird calls. Smoke and mirrors, witchdoctor voodoo, superstition, religion... it's all the same.

Back from another squirt and vacuum. I asked Nancy how I'm doing on a scale of 1 to 5 and she said 3. But she added that most people with this condition are 1. It looks like they might have to chip away at some of the exposed bone to make it easier for the gum to grow over it. I also spoke to the prosthetist. He's a bit of a worry... keeps confusing me with other patients. For a minute there he was saying I'm only due for a full upper and no lower. What? But then he checked his records and saw that I'm due for a full set. However, first things first... the gums need to do their thing before I can be fitted with dentures, so it'll be a few months yet I imagine. Sigh.

And there goes another of my possessions, the Britannica and bookcase. The bloke just arrived and took it away. I warned him about the weight as he filled a box with books but he insisted it was cool: "I spend all day lifting patients," he explained, so he's obviously a nurse. And he gave me a $2 coin, double what he had bid. So that's one more thing I don't have to worry about getting rid of before the Odyssey departure. It's a good feeling, actually... seeing my stuff slowly disappear in favor of a new beginning.

From the Beeb: The US formally recognises Syria's opposition coalition as the "legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, President Obama says.

The current generation of school-age students spend more time online than any other. But what happens when they are asked to live and interact without mobile phones and with limited internet for a few months? At the Mountain School in rural Vermont, 45 students from across the US find out each term what life is like without the technological advantages offered by their life at home.

I've wasted a lot of time today trying to upload pics to eBay - restarting the comp, disconnecting and connecting the modem... all the usual frustrating stuff but it didn't help. I'll give it another go some other time. I'm so pleased with my possessions gradually disappearing from sight I thought I'd get rid of some more. The less accumulated whatnots I have in this house, the less interested I am in being here. Yeah?

NC Art told me about an old bloke who failed the mandatory Health and Safety course at the Golden Acres Senior Center today. One of the questions was: "In the event of a fire, what steps would you take?" "Fuckin' big ones" was apparently the wrong answer.

Well, time to vanish into cyber space once more, ladies and genitals. I think I might take Art's advice tonight and put the chunky soup in the blender. Sounds easier than all that other buggerizing around. Gary

December 11, 2012. BR João adds to his comment yesterday about the Aussie prank played on a British nurse who allegedly suicided because of its tragic repercussions: I don’t need to say that my English isn’t exactly Shakespearean. So I don’t know if I was clear yesterday. When I talked about innocent punished I was referring nurse Saldanha and her family, not the DJs. What the DJs have done was wrong for sure but what a lot of other people have done was equally condemnable.  There’s something interesting in such a sad story: nurse Saldanha and her husband Mr. Barboza are Indians but they have Portuguese names. Saldanha and Barboza (or Barbosa, as we spell in Brazil) are very common Portuguese surnames. This reflects something occurred 500 years ago: the discovery of the “maritime way to the Indias” by Portuguese admiral Vasco da Gama in the pursuit of the rich spice trade. Portugal established some settlements in India that influenced part of Indian culture till today. In the middle of Portuguese spice trade endeavour an accident occurred, they discovered Brazil. Well, no enterprise is error proof.

The prank by the DJs was a major news story last night on telly. They've been interviewed and are both devastated by what has transpired. Commentators agree that the DJs are inexperienced kids and did something very silly. They say the real blame lies with station management who authorized the broadcast of the tape even after failing to contact the nurse to obtain her permission. As one commentator put it, "Those kids went to a place that older and wiser angels in broadcasting might have feared to tread." Commentators also agree that the angry backlash by the British press is driven by jealousy at having been upstaged by a couple of Aussie kids. And the Anonymous group of hackers who left a threatening message on Twitter or Facebook? One commentator suggested Anonymous leave the running of the world to adults and go back to masturbating.

Shades of Orson Welles' prank in 1938 when he broadcast a message to say Martians were invading earth. NC Art would have been around then. I wonder if he remembers it.

Speaking of discovering places, a French captain who sailed into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbor) in the early 19th century was rather impressed by the way the Brits had turned the fledgling colony into quite a success story. (A few decades earlier, Compte de La Perouse sailed into Botany Bay just five days after the arrival of Capt. Arthur Phillip with his fleet of 11 ships flying the British flag. The French had been interested in New Holland for quite some time). Anyway, the second French visitor suggested to Napoleon that invading Australia would be in the Gallic national interest. He reasoned that the Irish convicts and other disaffected settlers would most likely side with the French against their British rulers. Napoleon liked the idea and gave it serious consideration, but at the time he had more pressing issues in Europe to attend to. As a result, the French invasion of the colony of New South Wales  never materialized. Cest la vie. Read a short article about the meeting of Phillip and La Perouse (after whom a Sydney suburb is named) here.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has addressed Michigan car workers to build support for his plan to raise taxes on the rich and avert a looming "fiscal cliff". The visit follows face-to-face meetings with Republican House Speaker John Boehner at the White House on Sunday. After their first private talks since Mr Obama won re-election, both sides said communication lines "remain open". One thing's for sure, the ripple effect of whatever happens in the US will also affect the rest of the world, including Oz.

Lindsay saw me taking the boxed radio to the Ute this morning and asked if I was "packing up". Hehe. He must be paranoid about my moving out.

BACK! I just posted the radio and discovered that it's the size of the box you pay for and not the size/weight of its contents. So it cost me $8 more than I quoted the buyer. Grrrrr. I was lucky though... the size of the box just made it... any bigger and it would have been rejected.

And now a final word from BR João... Talking about India, I found on the Net a photo of an Indian dentures shop, dated 1946. Maybe you would be interested. :-)

And here we are again, wrap time after another uneventful day. I need a bit of excitement.  Gary

December 10, 2012. There are always two sides to a given coin, right? Here's BR João's take on the British nurse tragedy: The death of nurse  Jacintha Saldanha is a sad tragedy indeed, it doesn’t matter if she took her life or not, what will be established by post-mortem examination. But I think that to blame only the radio DJs is unfair. What they did was, as you say, a puerile prank. They invaded the privacy of a young couple, what all English media was also trying to do. It’s not an elegant or right thing to do, of course, but we can’t forget that the young couple whose privacy was invaded is a pair of public figures. They didn’t complain when their wedding was in the front page of all papers in the world. They are news, it’s inevitable. And the pregnancy of the duchess is good news, not an embarrassing secret. The natural reaction to what the DJs had done is to laugh and forget. But a lot of important people, who probably laughed when they knew that two Australian DJs (with their Australian accent) had successful impersonated the Queen and the Heir of the United Kingdom, made hypocritical declarations transforming the silly joke in a national outrage. English tabloids amplified the pretended outrage, probably envying the DJs’ idea. It’s this fabricated indignation what could have stroke so badly the poor nurse and made her feel guilty. In summary: many guilty people and only the innocent punished.

A valid point, João, but the bottom line is that the DJs played a practical joke and made a fool of someone in the process. Did they not consider what would happen to the nurse if their attempt to contact the duchess were successful? Apparently they did. They say they tried 5 times to contact the nurse to get her approval to use the recording. They were unsuccessful, but went ahead and broadcast the tape anyway. Their prank was ill considered and, as a result, ended in tragedy. A mate of mine was the victim of a practical joke. He was in the Navy as a young man when a group of his friends threw him off a bridge into a river. As it happened, the water where he fell was only a few inches deep. It happened about 40 years ago, and he has spent all his life in a wheelchair. He's philosophical about it, though. One time we were playing pool with a bunch of guys in a pub and he kept sinking balls. When it was obvious he was gonna win the game I said to him, "If you keep doing that I'll let your bloody tires down." 

According to NC Art and his son, Microsoft has been playing practical jokes on people for decades hehe. He's just been through a most frustrating excercise in trying to install stuff and getting it to work. At 10 a.m. my son arrived at my pad and left at 3 p.m., with assorted kind words for Microsoft’s mischievous engineers. You wouldn’t want to hear them. Is it a surprise that Apple users offer such pitying smiles of sympathy to their benighted Windows friends? I’d rather look at petunias or deadly nightshade.

Off for another squirt and vacuum shortly. Nancy's back so she'll be doing more poking and prodding than I feel is necessary. When I yelp it's a sign of improvement, she insists. Meanwhile, I'm tucking into a smoothie with raw egg again but it doesn't seem to be doing anything for weight gain. I'm still only 50kgs, but I feel okay. BTW, that Heinz 'chunky' steak and onions soup last night was delish... not as 'chunky' as the label would have you believe, however. I had to search for the alleged chunks and then shred them with a fork. But it certainly tasted pretty good. Then I had a strawberry ice cream sundae for dessert.

Well, according to Nancy, the right side (where the remaining 10 teeth were extracted a bit over a week ago) is healing very well. The left side (where the majority of exposed bone is) is also healing, but very slowly. Slowly is okay. I can handle that. Just as long as there's progress. Meanwhile, it would appear that my new (and to some extent experimental) regimen of medication is working. As to my weight, at least I'm not losing any more, and I do feel okay, so maybe it's just something I have to deal with before getting my dentures. Then I can go back to eating regular meals.

Oh yes... vinegar in the porta potti. After researching the matter yesterday I discovered the general consensus is that Nappysan (diaper soak) is the way to go... particularly the home brands which are cheap as chips. Two tablespoons dissolved in warm water and added to the waste tank does the trick. Ditto added to the flush tank every 3 or 4 refills. According to what I read, there are no nasty chemicals in Nappysan so it's not harmful to the environment, or indeed to bush toilets that use a natural decomposition process. Someone also suggested spraying olive oil around the bowl stops anything sticking. Charming topic, yes?

The Astor radio is an odd size which means the Post Office doesn't have a box to fit. The supermarket will have one! Nope. If you wanna know where the baked beans are, no problem. If you need an empty box, no can do. Go out the back and search the bins yourself. Well, that didn't work either cos the rubbish collector arrived in his big truck as I was beginning my search. So I went to the liquor store. Try the manchester store over the road, mate. So I went to the manchester store. The storeman at the loading dock was much more helpful and I got me a box, albeit too big, but he showed me how to cut it down to size. And now the radio is boxed and ready for the Post Office. Lotta buggerizing around just for $50 if you ask me. Communication was a hassle too with no bloody teeth.

While I was at the shops I got me something every camper needs. A pencil sharpener! Sue nicked my old one and claimed it as her own. She does that with almost everything that's left lying around. I have to keep all my bathroom goodies in a bag in my bedroom. And I got me scissors... kitchen shears, actually, stainless steel. Last but not least... Sellotape with dispenser. Can't go traipsing around Oz without sticky tape. At my age, bits could fall off any time.

And here we are again, dear Breth, the end of another Waffle. What the hell am I gonna do with all the past Waffles? I'm tempted to dump it all on Day 1 of the Odyssey and start fresh with stuff that's relevant to the people I meet and the places I visit. But I suppose some of the old stuff is worth keeping, although I can't think why. Maybe I'll just archive it - it doesn't take up all that much memory. I'm also inclined to believe it won't be necessary to be writing a journal as well as a separate Waffle. The only reason Waffle exists is because I'm still waiting to get started on the Odyssey. Yes, that's what I'll do... archive the Waffle and then use the Journal as a diary of my travels and experiences. Actually, I'll also archive the current Journal as a record of my time spent on the Mid North Coast of NSW, and begin a new Journal on Day 1 of the Odyssey. Sound confusing? Nah... she'll be right mate... you'll see. I think. Gary

December 9, 2012. From the Beeb: Accused of having blood on their hands by furious listeners, the Australian DJs at the centre of the UK royal hospital hoax tragedy have been taken off air as the public backlash intensifies. As the pressure mounts, the bosses of troubled Sydney radio station 2Day FM have suspended until Monday all commercials, after some of Australia's best-known companies, including telecommunications giant Telstra and supermarket heavyweight Coles, withdrew their advertising. "We understand Australians are clearly angry and upset by what appear to be tragic consequences of the 2Day FM UK hospital prank," Coles announced as news came through of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha. Social media have been bombarded with comments, many castigating radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian, whose spoof conversation with hospital staff in London, posing as the Queen and Prince Charles, backfired so disastrously. The duo have deleted Twitter accounts, as a cascade of criticism came hurtling through cyberspace, including reports of death threats. "Not so darn funny now is it? A British nurse is DEAD for the sake of a couple of cheap laughs. Shame on you!" wrote one angry contributor to 2Day FM's Facebook page.I have no sympathy whatsoever for those two dingalings and their puerile prank.

Sunday morning in Taree, walking the dog in Elizabeth Park. Petunia is genus of 35 species of flowering plants of South American origin, closely related to tobacco, cape gooseberries, tomatoes, deadly nightshades, potatoes and chili peppers; in the family Solanaceae. Here's another one I just posted on Red Bubble.

I've been trying for ages to motivate myself to visit the park either early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer to take a few pics of the petunias. This morning, I finally stuck a rocket up my butt and did it. I'm sure the bees and butterflies are having a whale of a time with that smorgasbord.

I've heard a lot about Australian wildflowers growing in profusion in the outback after good rain. Trouble is, it doesn't often rain out there. I'm hoping I'll get lucky on the Odyssey. Tom and Matt spent 3 weeks travelling 4 states and didn't use the windshield wipers once. I suppose if I keep an eye on the national weather as I travel, and hear about good rains inland, I could make a special trip. They say the sight of wildflowers stretching for miles and miles is truly a sight to behold (especially if you compare it to the normally dry and barren landscape). I suppose one of the reasons why inland Oz is so flat is because it was once an inland sea.

From the Beeb: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has annulled a decree that gave him expanded powers but a constitutional referendum will go ahead, officials say. The people have spoken.

UN delegates in Qatar agree that rich countries should compensate poor nations for climate damage, and extend the Kyoto Protocol until 2020. Sounds fair to me.

Hamas's political leader Khaled Meshaal tells thousands in Gaza marking the group's 25th anniversary that Hamas will not recognise Israel. I wonder if Hamas is also a supporter of the Flat Earth Society.

Video footage of a "fire-ball" flashing in the sky over Texas has been captured by a Nasa camera. I wonder if TX Greg saw it.

Vinegar instead of toilet chemicals? Yeah. I was just reading a Grey Nomad forum thingy and using vinegar instead of toilet chemicals in the porta pottie was a tip from a well-travelled nomad. Much cheaper! Another one was using two buckets for washing when away from a tap. A telescopic ladder was another.

Just saw that my Astor valve radio sold for $50. Oh well... can't take it with me anyway so at least it'll be useful to someone else. The bloke who paid 1 lousy dollar for my Britannica and bookcase wrote to organize a day to pick it up. He can do all the lifting and carrying. Bugger him.

A quiet Sunday, ladies and genitals, with a bit of thunder that hasn't materialized into anything apart from a few drops of rain. And now I'm off to rustle up something for the belly before I turn on the telly. Or is it the other way around? Dozen madder. Gary

December 8, 2012. Nudja Satdee. And my Britannica with matching bookcase sold! Yes, folks there is a demand for such a thing after all. $1 was the winning bid. Sheesh. Even the bookcase is worth more than that. All I can say is that the "successful" sale saves me from having to dump the damn thing... all 70 kgs of it. That would actually COST money.

I read more of Tom and Matt's 4-state road trip this morning and I must say those long stretches of outback roads don't thrill me too much. They were covering several hundreds of kilometers a day which is something I don't plan on doing, especially with one driver. They also mentioned the high crime rate in Alice Springs and the fact that they stayed in a gated motel. However, according to my Camps book there are a number of camping spots around the area that are reasonably well serviced (and I suspect well patronized by travellers).

I also read elsewhere that most people try to cross the Nullarbor Plain as quickly as possible. But the author of that article/journal said they don't realize what they're missing. If you're in no hurry, and take the time to investigate the little turn-offs along the main highway, there are all kinds if interesting places to visit and camp overnight. Besides, I've heard so much about the desert stars and how bright they are in the clear night sky, I don't wanna miss out on seeing them as often as possible.

The main diff between what Tom and Matt did and what I'll be doing is that they had an itinerary and a schedule. I won't. If it takes me a week or longer to cover 500 kms that's fine. And motels are OUT! So are caravan parks (except for an occasional stop to use laundry facilities or whatever). During periods when I'm out of range of phone and internet connection, I'll just keep writing the journal as per normal and taking pics/videos, and then update AO when I'm back on line.

From the Beeb: A nurse at a London hospital who took a hoax call about the Duchess of Cambridge has been found dead. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a statement they were "deeply saddened" by the death of the nurse, named as Jacintha Saldanha. King Edward VII hospital paid tribute to "a first class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients". Details of the pregnant duchess's medical condition were unwittingly revealed to two Australian DJs. Mel Greig and Michael Christian, from Sydney radio station 2Day FM posed as the Queen and Prince Charles in a call early on Tuesday morning. Bloody morons. Now they can live with that on their conscience. 2DAY is the last Sydney station I worked for back in the mid '80s.

In 1987 a West German teenager shocked the world, by flying through Soviet air defences to land a Cessna aeroplane in Red Square. He was jailed for more than a year - but a quarter of a century later, he has no regrets. I mustn't have been paying attention because I don't recall that event.

Just finished reading Tom and Matt's 4-state drive. Not quite the kinda thing I have in mind but interesting nonetheless. I think they missed a lot by bypassing many places and being in such a hurry to get from point to point each day. Tom said at the end of the trip he was glad to sleep in his own bed again. Well, I'll be taking mine with me so I won't have that problem. Anyway, reading Tom's journal has certainly whet my appetite for getting the Odyssey started... not to mention these damned health and dental issues out of the way.

Meanwhile, 'tis time to gather some kindling and get the camp fire underway. Yeah, right. Oh well... one of these days. Gary

December 7, 2012. TX Greg wrote: Yes, I too was confused by Richie's comment on that, but I see here only Portland and Medford areas in Oregon require that. Here in Texas it's gotten really strict on yearly state inspections and emissions testing. Way back all they checked was lights, wipers, tires, brakes and if the horn blows. Back working at the RV dealer every time on the horn check someone in the shop would always yell out, "Horn blows, how about the driver?" hehe. Quite embarrassing if a customer happened to wander back there, hehe.

Yep, gone are the days when blue smoke billowed from exhausts and tires were worn to the casing. I was so broke as a teen, my Morris had a different brand tire on each corner and sump oil like molasses. One of my older bros had a little Austin 7 with no brakes. He used the gears and handbrake. The other brother almost lost a rear wheel before he stopped the car (a 1937 Standard Flyer) and saw the wheel barely hanging on by one stud. The rest had been sheared off. How any of us ever reached maturity remains a mystery.

And now I've reached a stage in life where my vehicle will soon become my home. That's gonna be totally weird... at least for a while. How does one get used to living in a place with no fence? No gate? No number? Naturally, I'll take a pic of the camper with Uluru in the background. But what about the Sydney Opera House in the background? Or the Harbor Bridge? Or Parliament House in Canberra? Or a vineyard in the Barossa Valley? Yeah... like a stage play. Every time the curtain is lowered, the old scenery is wheeled out and the new scenery is wheeled in.

Gary Kelly, c/- Australia, Southern Hemisphere.

I suppose aussieodyssey dot com, my "home" on the internet, and my email addy, will give me some sense of permanency... of a place to which I belong. I'm not sure I could handle being totally isolated from friends. Red Bubble is another place I feel at home, and where I can keep in touch by posting pics from time to time. Justin's Blog is another place I frequent.

And yet another place I frequent is the Albert Street Dental Clinic, where I'm due for another squirt and vacuum in a few minutes. Bleh.

BACK! Nancy's away today so the young Brit girl did the deed. She's gentle and sweet and it's all over in a few minutes. Next appointment, Monday. Also back from the shops. It's obviously December and the holiday season - the shopping center carparks are choc-a-bloc. But I managed to find a park and bought a pair of canvas shoes (blue and white striped) for $10. Easy to slip on when I'm out and about on the Odyssey.

From the Beeb: Skyscraper living: What is it like to have a home on the 74th floor?

And here's something really cool: This spectacular night-time view of Earth is called Black Marble. It has been assembled from a series of cloud-free images acquired by one of the most capable satellites in the sky today - the Suomi spacecraft.

While Googling for pics of Grey Nomads, I happened on a site run by a retired bloke. Tom and his son Matt drove through the outback to check out the scene, and it's pretty interesting. You might wanna bookmark the site so you can read it at your leisure. I just read the part about their journey from Alice Springs down to Coober Pedy, the opal mining town with underground dwellings. Then I went back to days 0 and 1.

But now, boils and goils, it's THAT time again... time to think about something for dinner. Maybe I could eat my soup with a knife and fork and PRETEND it's a proper meal. Teeth. I need TEETH! And then I'll catch a bit of telly. Tellya what... reading Tom's journal is making me restless. Grrrr. Gary

December 6, 2012. Pay day, bills day, whoosh! Next! Yep, the ol' fiscal revolving-door trick strikes again. 

NC Art has a few nutrition tips: That nice white chicken ain’t exactly loaded with protein. Red meat like beef is the good stuff. And, of course the cackle berries are loaded. So is whole milk. About the veggie/beef soup, why not puree in the blender, then add water, heat and slurp it up? Funny thing about eggs. They are loaded with cholesterol which is guaranteed to cause heart attacks and strokes ... according to the medical worry warts. Yet, nursing homes for the oldsters push eggnog on the residents. Sometimes it’s laced with a bit of booze to keep the patient peppy while awake, then slumbering peacefully through the arvie.

Oh well, at least the chicken slid down the screech no prob, and thickened up the soup quite nicely. As to eggs, the worry warts did warn against too many... I remember one nutritionist saying 2 a week was the limit. But that's all changed. Eggs are back on the recommended list. The more the merrier.

Oregon Richie’s comment on vehicle inspection puzzles me. NC is a stickler for annual inspection of car safety features. Before renewal of registration, that inspection and proof of liability insurance is de rigor or you don’t drive the rig legally on the king’s highway.

Maybe I mistook Richie's "we" to mean all states instead of just Oregon. Individual states here in Oz also have different rules. I think Western Australia is the state with the most lax approach to registration renewal.

Sorta wish I could sleep like you do. I hit the bed about 11 or 12 pm, wake at five or six. Go pee, check early news, back to bed to read and nap, then repeat until time for stretch and twist exercises and prunes and pills and bacon & egg breakfast. Better than not waking at all, to put a positive spin on the matter.

Not sure about that last claim. I've only seen one corpse, and that was old Kev (Averil's husband). There he was stretched out on the hospital bed, peaceful as you like. Averil held his hand as I transferred his belongings into a bag. Suddenly, she said with some alarm, "He's still warm! I hope they haven't made a mistake!" Anyway, he looked better than I'd seen him in quite a while, and Averil must have thought so too. When she was invited a day or two later to "view the body" at the funeral parlor, she declined. She preferred to remember him the way he was that morning in hospital.

Death is only of consequence while we're alive. Pharaohs and other notables who commanded huge monuments to be erected in their honor failed to realize that being remembered is not something about which one is concerned once one ceases to exist. Death is not a transition from one state of existence to another. That's the difficult thing for mortals to comprehend... if they happen to be human, that is. Hehe. 

From the Beeb: Dave Brubeck, the jazz pianist who recorded Take Five, dies aged 91, his manager says. Now there's a bloke who will be remembered for his contribution to the arts.

A homeless man has been charged with second-degree murder for pushing a man to his death in front of an oncoming train in New York. Naeem Davis, 30, was questioned on Tuesday and police say his answers linked him to the death of Ki-Suck Han. The New York Post newspaper has been criticised for publishing a photo of Mr Han, moments from death, on the cover. Yes, I saw the story on telly last night. Commentators were discussing the ethics of publishing that photo. The newspaper obviously thought it would increase sales and it did, so who do you criticize, the Post or its readers? As to the photographer, the commentators drew a parallel between him and photo journalists in war zones or at other volatile events where they remain detached from proceedings in order to capture the action.

And speaking of Murdoch: Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, the mother of the media magnate Rupert, has died at her home in Australia. She was 103. She had been admitted to hospital in Melbourne in September after breaking her leg in a fall. In a statement issued on behalf of the family, Rupert Murdoch said: "We have lost the most wonderful mother but we are all grateful to have had her love and wisdom for so many years." Dame Elisabeth was a noted philanthropist and patron of the arts. I saw her interviewed fairly recently. She remarked on her son, Rupert, that "we don't always agree on everything he does." She also said that she'd be quite happy to live forever.

The UK Scout Association is considering an alternative oath for atheists. Interesting. What does an athiest swear on? The Boy Scouts Handbook? 

A charity in New Zealand is teaching rescued dogs how to drive a car. The canine driving school is aimed at proving how intelligent the animals can be. Monty the giant schnauzer is among the novice drivers who have learned to control the brakes, gears and steering wheel. You're not gonna believe this video.

The seller of the Ford ute on eBay wrote again to inform me that there is a lip about 5mm deep along the rails of the tray, but that the width of the tray between the lips is 1835mm, which is precisely the width of the camper skids. Can you imagine backing the ute under the camper so that the skids are perfectly aligned within the the lips? Sheesh. But, if I have such a situation when I buy a new ute, I suppose I can have a sheet of ply or something cut so that it fits precisely between the lips and raises the tray floor level to the same height. If the camper sits on the tray with a little overlap on one side, it shouldn't matter - provided it's only an inch or so. There's an adjustable anchor chain on each corner to secure the load and prevent it from moving. I have a feeling that once the camper is on the tray, I won't be in any great hurry to unload it.

There was an old guy working out on a bicep machine at the gym when a buxom young blonde wearing a skin-tight top walked in. So the old guy turned to the trainer standing next to him and said, "What kind of machine should I be using to impress a gorgeous woman like that?" The trainer looked the old guy over and said, "I'd recommend the ATM in the lobby." (From NC Art).

Here's another one: Three blokes died on Christmas eve and were met by St Peter at the Pearly Gates. "In honor of this Holy Season," he said, "You must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas in order to enter Heaven." The Englishman fumbled through his pockets and produced a lighter, which he flicked on. "This is a candle," he said, and was allowed to enter the Gates. The Scotsman searched his pockets and produced a set of keys, which he jangled. "These are bells," he smiled. He was also allowed to pass through the Gates. Then the Irishman desperately rummaged around in his pockets and finally found a pair of panties. "And what are they supposed to represent?" asked St Peter with one eyebrow cocked. "They're Carol's," the Irishman explained, and was also allowed to enter Heaven. And so the Christmas Season begins...

Just back from the supermarket and splurging on lots of dairy thingies like custard cups, creamy white chocolate cups and assorted fudge sundaes in cups. Also posted the Kreisler radio and Plymouth book. Right now, though, I'm hoeing into a banana smoothie with raw egg. Isn't that exciting?

Yes, dear Breth it was so exciting I fell asleep and napped. And now it's time for all that parting is such sweet sorrow stuff. Art reckons I should whizz the beef and veg soup through the blender but I'm not too sure about that. I do like my peas round ya know. Anyway, I'll shred the beef and see how it goes. And maybe later I'll treat myself to a caramel fudge sundae. Oh dear... I'm now watching Poh's Kitchen on telly and she's making a whole bunch of yummies I CAN'T EAT! Gary

December 5, 2012. It was on this day in 1958 that I began my working life as a 14 y/o lad. Sheesh. Funny how I remember that date.

Yesterday, I was talking about ute trays and their dimensions, so I decided to ask a seller with the kind of Ute I'm thinking of buying what the dimensions are. He replied this morning... Tray is 2400 long x 1800 wide. Excellent. The camper is 2310 long x 1835. The extra width won't matter if the tray is completely flat. If it has a lip, that would be a bummer.

I remember when those Fords first came onto the market, and I thought the styling was abominable. But now, for some strange reason, I rather like it. Anyway, they're a pretty tough old bus with good cabin space and lots of creature comforts. They're 2WD (rear wheels) but have oodles of power and great torque. Mind you, whatever happens to pop up when the time comes is anyone's guess. Just as long as the tray is the right size.

Meanwhile, I took the Ute to Ford this morning for a rego check and service, and got driven back in a flash new Falcon with no rattles!

Yep, I owned a 1967 Benz but it wasn't as flash as that one. Mine was a 4-door sedan. Still and all, the sight of that three-pointed star at the end of the bonnet was a glorious thing.

Am I falling into the same trap as most oldies of being sentimental about the "good old days"? Maybe I am. Here's an interesting article on the Beeb: When it comes to happiness, it seems that the young and the old have the secret.

Back from Nancy's squirt and vacuum. She tells me that the meds I'm taking now are to stimulate blood flow to the jaw bones, not the gums. Increased blood flow to the exposed bone areas will encourage the gums to grow over them, which will minimize risk of infection. At the moment, the exposed bone area on my right side (2mm x 10mm) is dead... and that's what's preventing the gum from covering it. Or something like that. The meds are unproven at the mo so I'm the guinea pig. She also says I deperately need more protein, so I'm going to have to make the effort to incorporate more eggs and meat in my diet.

Right, lunch: Milk, raw egg, 3 scoops Sustagen (with added protein), two scoops yoghurt, 3 strawberries, blended. How's that? I'll add an egg to each smoothie I make from now on. I'll get some more canned soups later... those with chunky meat and veg, and I'll use a fork to shred the chunks of meat before I heat it. I can't chew chunks but I can swallow shreds. Yeah?

I got the old "oh, you poor dear, you've been through so much already and now this!" routine from Averil earlier when she phoned. Hehe. Well, not much point in bitching about it... ya just gotta roll with the punches.

Ute's back and ready to rock and roll. It passed rego but they made a note about a couple of things that need doing at some stage. I appreciate it when they keep an eye on things. But I'll leave those little jobs to the next owner. :) Now all I have to do is pay compulsory third party insurance and she'll be registered for another 12 months. Oregon Richie tells me US authorities don't worry about stuff like roadworthy inspections and annual registrations. It's mandatory here.

Bush fire warnings are in force on the Mid North Coast at the mo... not here in Taree but in the area. People are being advised to stay in their homes as fires are being battled by firefighters.

It's wrap time. I bought some shaved chicken meat which I'll chop and add to my potato and leek soup tonight. Extra protein, folks! And now it's telly time. Gary

December 4, 2012. I'm grateful for another 10 AO pledges this morning. Those, together with revenue from the sale of the old radios brings this month's running total to 37 or $185, and the grand total to 197 or $985.

BR João wrote: So the Dutch guys don’t think that insult God must be punished by human law anymore? Well, I think God is old and powerful enough to decide to punish or to pardon someone by himself (or herself, to be politically correct). What is incredible is that the law now abandoned was introduced in the 1930s. Well, there are strange laws everywhere. In England is strictly forbidden to die inside the Parliament House. I just don’t know how the authorities will apply the penalty to the impolite person who decides to defy the law and to leave this cruel world inside such a noble house.

I'm convinced that the human race is nutty, João. Sure, there are abberations occasionally that give us new inventions and insights into our complex psyche, but overall people are loopy. Ask even the smartest amongst us if they have ever done anything dumb and the answer will surely be "yes". I mean, what is the sum total of our knowledge today? Whatever it is, it's taken us over a million years to figure it all out. And we probably haven't even scratched the surface yet.

From the Beeb: Kate and William: The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, St James's Palace has announced. Members of the Royal Family and the duchess's family, the Middletons, are said to be delighted. A spokesman said the duchess, who is thought to be less than 12 weeks pregnant, has been admitted to a London hospital with acute morning sickness and is likely to stay for several days. The baby - the couple's first - will be born third in line to the throne, after Prince Charles and Prince William. Jeez, hardly seems all that long since William was just a boy at his mother's funeral.

Israel says it will not give in to international pressure to halt plans for 3,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Typical. The thing is, if you have God on your side, you don't have to listen to anybody, right?

One thing I'm looking forward to on the Odyssey is listening to the stories people tell me... people I meet at camp sites, in pubs, or wherever I happen to be. There's bound to be a million of 'em. One bloke I heard on the radio yesterday was telling stories about his boyhood. He was a kid from the city who was sent to his Uncle Jack's farm in the country on school vacation to learn a thing or two about country life. He was about 7 or 8 when Uncle Jack gave him his first lesson in shearing a sheep. He took him out to a paddock where the kid could smell something awful. It turned out to be a dead sheep, already flyblown after being dead for about a week. Uncle Jack pulled a fistful of fleece from the carcass, sending maggots scurrying in all directions: "You won't have to shear it, lad, you can just pull the wool off like this." Then he gave the kid a bag to fill and left him alone for a couple of hours to finish the job.

On another occasion, Uncle Jack taught the kid how to kill his first kangaroo. "Ever fired a rifle, son?" "Only a BB rifle," the boy answered. "That'll do." They were in the bush when Jack spotted a group of 'roos and gave the boy a rifle. "Aim at that one there and squeeze the trigger." The gun exploded and sent the boy stumbling back a few paces with a sore shoulder. Jack approached the writhing 'roo and plucked a joey from its pouch. "Here, boy," he said, handing him the tiny red, hairless joey, "you can have this little 'roo as a pet to play with."

The boy and the little joey got along quite well. He bottle-fed it, and it followed him everywhere. But on the day before he was due to return to his city home, Uncle Jack killed the joey, cut off its forearm and attached it to a keyring. "Here's your lucky charm, lad... better than a rabbit's foot anyday." The boy burst into tears. "Don't be so damn silly," growled Uncle Jack, "you can't take a 'roo back to the city. 'Roos are not allowed in cities!" On the return train journey, the boy opened the carriage window and threw the joey paw away.

Coincidentally, but not surprisingly, for the next several years the boy was always too "sick" to go on holiday to Uncle Jack's farm in the country. Later, when the boy grew up to become a man, he also became a writer and comedian. One of his most memorable characters on Oz TV (circa 1972) was Aunty Jack, a rough, coarse, bully (albeit a funny one) who was forever threatening to "come around to your house and rip ya bloody arms off". Here's the closing song of the show.

Stan the Lawn Man was here doing his thing, and also delivered the folding laptop table he made for the comp when I'm in the camper. The regular table in the camper is too high for typing, so this one opens over my lap on the sofa (with enough height to cross my legs which I'm in the habit of doing). It weighs a bloody ton and looks to be almost indestructible... but it'll do the job nicely. He was happy with $30 which is almost what it cost him for the hardware hehe. The timber was from an old laminated cabinet. It's basically a length of timber cut into 3 sections. The two ends fold inwards when not in use, and outwards when in use, locking into place to form vertical legs.

I've just spent a while checking ute tray sizes on the net. Not much info out there, but it's something I need to know before I invest in a tray back ute. I've got a particular load to carry which happens to be 2310mm long. I've seen standard trays at 2.2m long, which is too short, and others at 2.4. But it seems the smaller 4-cyl. Japanese tray backs are shorter than the Ford Falcon 6-cyl. tray, so that's something I'll have to watch. I read an article a while ago about choosing a slide-on camper first, then the ute second. Makes sense. But it's not so easy when you're buying a used ute. Tray sizes are all over the shop. Gross Vehicle Mass is another thing... what the vehicle is legally able to carry. Make a boo-boo and there goes your insurance. I'm thinking Falcon at the mo cos the 1 tonner is able to carry 1.2 ton and the camper, unladen, is about 3/4.

All very technical and boring, I'm afraid.

Anyway, there goes another day. One thing I've noticed about the mouth, whenever I drink something, like fruit juice or whatever, it washes the saliva from my mouth and the aching returns. Obviously, saliva has something to do with controlling bacteria. Oh well... no biggie. I'm drinking dark grape juice at the mo... unfermented. Time for a bit of telly now and then a little something to put a bit more meat on my old bones. Gary

December 3, 2012. There ya go... one day I'm worried about having 10 teeth pulled the next, and now it's the forth day hence. Time indeed does heal all wounds. I love it when nasty things are buried in the past. Hehe.

Just booked the Ute in for a rego check and service on Wednesday. It was due for a service at 280,000 but it's only done a bit over 270,000. Typical. Even the trips to Port Macquarie and Newcastle didn't increase my average mileage all that much. It took 5 years for ol' Tough Titties to clock up 7,000 kms. It'll be different on the Odyssey, of course, but probably not a helluva lot. I figure I'll be averaging 100 to 200 kms a week except outback where distances between towns is far greater. Meanwhile, the Ute will be ship-shape and registered when it comes time to sell.

And there goes the little Phillips radio on it's way to Moe, Victoria and its new home... with a bloke named Phill. Fair enough. And there's a few more bob towards the new Ute. I saw a story on Australia Post that said its mail delivery has slumped because of electronic communications such as email, but its parcel delivery has skyrocketed because of online retailing such as eBay. It was pretty simple actually. Chose a box, addressed it, put the radio inside, secured it with a roll of bubblewrap, took it to the counter, paid $20 and that was it. Bon voyage.

The Kriesler will be the buyer's gift to a mate in Brisbane..."it'll look great in his kitchen". The buyer's PO address is Miller's Point in Sydney which is the old Rocks area where Radiance of the Seas was "parked" when I was there last.

From the Beeb: A UN agency hosts a controversial meeting to discuss what - if any - regulations should be placed over the internet. It's the way human beings are... they just love to regulate things.

Here's an interesting piece on the Beeb about an epic photographic odyssey that documented Native Americans.

Back from today's squirt and suck. I gave Nancy one of my Red Bubble calendars for Christmas because she's doing such a good job of looking after me. Anyway, the exposed bone on the left side, which Liam attended to last Friday (to put it mildly) is looking good and she expects it to fully heal within 2 to 4 weeks. But the right side, which has exposed bone all along the lower jaw, is not doing so well and she thinks she'll have to get Liam back to lay more tissue over it to help it heal. The good thing is that the new medication and Vitamin E is encouraging vascular blood flow to the gums which should also encourage growth. It's essential that all bone is covered by gum tissue to minimize any future risk of infection. Meanwhile, using mouthwash 3-4 times daily is mandatory, as are the regular flushes and cleans every few days at the clinic. Dentures are on hold until the gums are fully healed. Interestingly, the Vitamin E is also removing age spots from my arms.

So, dear Breth, there remains yet a hurdle or two before I can put this whole irritating cancer gig behind me. Before checking my mouth, Nancy asked if Liam had removed all my teeth. "Yes, but you're welcome to save whatever's left if you want to." 

Anyway, the day has vanished (which is what happens when you sleep a lot) and it's time for the usual. I actually look forward to a long night's sleep because it helps to pass the time. I want this whole business over and done with as soon as poss. Actually, Nancy invited me to her place for Christmas but I declined. What would I do there? I can't eat, can't drink, can't talk. Nah. Gary

December 2, 2012. Well, two of the radios sold on eBay. The little Phillips went for $107 and the Kriesler fetched $30. Surprisingly, the larger Astor didn't get a dollar despite over 100 lookers. A similar one sold for over $170 a few weeks ago so I've listed it again. Oh well...

Still sleeping like a log overnight with lots of 1-hour naps during the day. They say it helps the healing process. I don't really have much say in the matter because I just do what Nature tells me to do, and keep nodding off.

From the Beeb: A road tunnel has collapsed in Japan, trapping a number of vehicles, Japanese media reports say. Public broadcaster NHK quoted its reporter as saying that black smoke was coming out of the tunnel and there appeared to be a fire inside. Five people were feared trapped in the tunnel, later reports said. Bridges and tunnels collapsing... two of my worst fears.

Well, it's five-ish already and I'm afraid I've spent most of the time sleeping. If I remember correctly, the same thing happened after the first 10 teeth were pulled. Sorry about the lack of Waffle my dears but there's not much I can do about it. Perhaps I've underestimated the extent of this latest assault on my body... especially at my age. Probably the two worst incidents among many were the two large needles that penetrated my palate. He really didn't give me time to think about them. "A needle in the palate now (and I'm thinking, palate... which bit's the palate?)... a sting now..." And IN it went! Mate, lemme tell you, THAT was painful. And then a second later... "Here's another... sting now..." And IN again! I couldn't help but make an open-mouthed attempt at a yell. Jesus Christ that hurt. 

Anyway, all that teeth-pulling is history and I'll NEVER darken Liam's doorway again... except for Nancy's flush and sucks for a while. Meanwhile, it's time to catch a little telly (including Auction Room, which I like) and some sustenance. Then I'll crash again until about 6am. Sleeping is no problem for this kid at the mo. Gary

December 1, 2012. Here we are... the final month of 2012. For me, there's a lot I won't mind leaving behind, never to witness again! And how do I feel on the first day after having the final ten teeth pulled? Pretty good, actually. There was a bit of pain yesterday and overnight but I can use the killer mouthwash now and that gets rid of the bugs quick smart. It's the bacteria that causes most of the pain. My immune system and lack of saliva can't cope with the little nasties so the mouthwash comes in mighty handy. Naturally, I'll be restricted to soups, smoothies and that sort of thing for a while, which is a bit of a bummer, but I can handle that. Once everything settles down and the prosthetist does his thing, I'll be a new man... as TX Greg suggested with this pic:

My first denture was for my front teeth and I remember the first time I used them. It was like trying to eat something with a mouth full of marbles. The plate didn't feel like part of me so I wasn't sure what I was chewing... the food or the dentures. Yes, I'm looking forward to being able to pig out on things like pizza again... although ordering pizza delivered could be a bit of a prob out in the middle of the Nullarbor.

I must admit I've never liked dentures that LOOK like dentures but I suppose mine will. Being funded by Medicare I guess they'll be the bargain basement model hehe. Although the prosthetist did ask what color I prefer and I went for the second white, which is not "too" white - like those Hollywood larger than life mouths that seem to have enough pearly whites for about 3 people.

Here's my Britannica on eBay, starting at 10am Satdee. My dad's Plymouth book didn't get a single bid. Not to worry. I've written to the Chrysler Club in Oz to let them know it's available if anyone is interested.

It's mid afternoon already and all I've managed to do so far is sleep! I guess yesterday's trauma took its toll despite no (or very little) pain today. Maybe all that anaesthetic knocks you about it a bit as well. Actually, I wondered what he was doing after removing all the teeth. I could hear metal against bone and lots of breaking/snapping sounds. I discovered later that he was chipping away at the exposed bone so it wouldn't annoy my tongue like the other one did. He also covered the exposed section and stitched tissue over it to protect it from infection.

So there ya go. Hopefully on the Odyssey I'll have something a bit more interesting than Britannicas and dentures to talk about. I think I've already posted Terry Everson's link to his bio and a map of Oz showing all the places he's been... over a million miles worth. But I'll post it again anyway cos he mentioned it today on Red Bubble. Terry even looks like a bushie.

Israel has authorised the construction of 3,000 more housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to Israeli officials. The decision comes a day after a vote at the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians' status at the UN to that of non-member observer state. Plans to build settlements in the area, known as E1, are strongly opposed by Palestinians, who say the development will cut the West Bank in two, preventing the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state. Here we go again. Bickering neighbors, and forever so shall it remain.

Well, time to catch a bit of telly. Vegie soup for dinner hehe. Not very thrilling but it's quite nice. I'll probably sleep like a log again tonight despite the heat. It's been 35C today which is 95F. If it cools down after sundown, I'll open the bedroom windows. I keep the windows closed if it's hotter outside than in. But the forecast is for high to mid 20s overnight, down to 21C at 3am. First day of summer, mate. Gary


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