the WAFFLE page

October 31, 2013. TX Greg is getting all philosophical: The Meaning of Life: 

Not sure if you remember WebSeth  Seth got on the net about the same time as Cody did and has been on live cam 24/7 since 1996, a really cool site and worth a visit. I can still remember reading some cool posts about Cody on his site way back then. Seth wrote a Philosophy paper, which he used to have on his website that I always admired. Some will disagree, but I hope those will also remember Cody's words here “Everyone has the right to be respected for their differences, and the responsibility to respect others for theirs.”
The following is reprinted with permission:
The Meaning of Life
I believe the true meaning of life is nothing; everything we are now is from a coincidental chemical reaction. Any meaning that one would try to assign could only be artificial, with no factual basis. Thus everyone assigns their own meaning that is most convenient for them. Most people tend to see themselves as helpless and dependant when faced with the challenges of life. Therefore they seek to overcome their problems through imagination; they imagine or project an idealized being of goodness or power who can help them. The human mind thinks in such a way that it can't, or rather won't, comprehend the parallel nothingness and infiniteness of the universe. So to avoid logic conflicts, the human mind will artificially assign value, meaning, purpose, and order where there is none. Christianity, like any monotheistic religion, it is completely made up to satisfy human's inherent insecurity about themselves, life, the afterlife, and the universe as a whole. Humanity is not created in the image of God, but God is created in the image of idealized humanity. People seek in heaven what they cannot find on earth. The entire bible, and any religion really, is just mortal man grasping for a reason to live.
This is an essay I wrote for Philosophy 101 my first semester in college in 1999, I received a 100%
Copyright 1996-2013 ©

Thanks, Greg. I suspect the score of 100% is related to how Seth presents his case rather than what he believes. In the overall great scheme of things, it doesn't matter a hoot what any of us believes. Perception cannot alter truth. However, I happen to agree with Seth's assessment.

FL Josh wrote: I wish you had let me know the other Clark Little pictures did not make it through.  Here is a link to a ton of his photography.  They are truly stunning. Stunning is right. I'm sure Cody would have raved about them, having been in similar situations many times on his "stick". And that's the key to everything we do in life. Lots of people can take great photographs, or do other things exceptionally well, but it's how we put our own stamp on the things we do that makes the critical difference. And that's the hard part.

As to, "I'm sorry to hear that Kerry's experience was not a near death experience. The 'near' is missing, right?"  Come on Gary.  The term "Near Death Experience" has come to mean "an unusual experience taking place on the brink of death and recounted by a person after recovery, typically an out-of-body experience or a vision of a tunnel of light," and Mr. Packer simply did not have one.  Only a small percentage of people who have a near death episode have what we have come to describe as a "near death experience." 

I would argue that, in fact, Mr Packer did have one. Nothing is something. But it's not what some people want to hear. Hehe.

One of the things that fascinates me most about Near Death Experiences is what they refer to as "vertical perception," where the person is able to provide an accurate description of specific, unique events happening that happened around them while they were unconscious, things that the  person could not have seen or heard, or figured out through reasoning and logic. "Most often these descriptions involve the presence, physical appearance, or activities of people nearby or of  family members even at a distance. There are also reports of NDE vision in persons blind from birth. They also include NDE vision and hearing in a woman undergoing brain surgery whose eyes were taped shut and whose ears were plugged with a small speaker emitting a clicking sound. Meanwhile, her body was chilled down, her heart stopped and did not beat for nearly an hour, and the blood was drained from her brain so surgeons could repair a blood vessel. By all measures, her brain was completely inactive. Nevertheless, she correctly described instruments used by the doctors and conversations held between the doctors and nurses conducting the operation."

Yes, it's all rather mysterious. I won't dismiss what you have to say, Josh. I have personally known people who have had such experiences. A friend of mine was standing on a bridge with his mates who playfully pushed him into the creek below not realizing the water was shallow. He was 18 at the time. The impact broke his neck and he became quadraplegic. He described to me the vision he had of the panic that ensued. Looking down from above, he saw his mates desperately trying to revive him, and dragging him to shore. He was unconscious but, according to his mates, he accurately described the placement of each person and what they were doing at the time. Even I, Josh, with all my dazzling intelligence and analytical skills cannot explain that one. :o)

Following a severe heart attack, and recovery from near death, my father told my mother that he saw a tunnel of bright light at the end of which was a group of his deceased relatives beckoning him to join them. However, tempting as it was, he declined because he knew that my mother's eyesight was rapidly failing and she needed my father to be her "eyes".

But I think the most profound utterance was from my older bro who's not normally known for his genius. On the subject of near death he said, "The brain knows what to do." Profound yet succinct. I like that.

NC Art wrote: FL Josh’s comments about end of life experiences reminds me that my father was born way before his grandmother; Oct. 5, 1874! Well, I’m 88 and the last bolt from the Old Man’s tool box. And speaking of surprises from the near-dead, my father-in-law was in a coma after a stroke, so we moved him to a nursing home and asked our doctor to attend him. The doc walked into his room and said, “Good morning. I’m Doctor Kirksey” Mr. McGinnis reached  up, shook the doctor’s hand and said, “Webb McGinnis. Pleased to meet you!” That was the last thing he said before he died a year later. Weird mind stuff, what? 

Yes indeed, but if I can quote part of Seth's essay: Any meaning that one would try to assign could only be artificial, with no factual basis. Thus everyone assigns their own meaning that is most convenient for them.

Art goes on to say: My dad’s last car was a ’39 Chevrolet sedan, black. It introduced a steering post “Vacuumatic” shift, forerunner of auto shift fluid drive. It was not an improvement in my mind. The thing did shift smoothly, but damned slowly and you could not hurry it; the hydraulic boost resisted. He died ten years later and the thing was still running quite well.

And you're still running quite well after 88 years. There's a nice symmetry about the number 88. Don't you think? Meanwhile, every time you mention your age there's an extra 1 added. I'm still getting used to 85. Is it true what they say about old age; that the meaning of "old" is anyone 10 years older than you are? I remember my father in a nursing home complaining about being in a room "with all these old blokes" hehe. He was probably older than most of them.

A while ago, I said to a young nurse assisting Nancy in her efforts to normalise my mouth, "We all observe life from the inside looking out. As we age, everything remains the same: the trees, the sky, the buildings, people... And then we look in a mirror and it's like what the hell is happening here? Nothing is changing except me! And when I look at a young person like you, I forget that you're seeing a face full of wrinkles." 

Just received a Halloween animated ecard from OH Jace. Very creative and clever - a real work of art. Those ecard artists are getting better all the time. Jace tells me serious storms are on the way to disrupt Halloween where he is, with high winds and possible tornadoes. And being a keen follower of natural science, Jace tells me that three new Aussies have been discovered: One is a gecko, the others are a skink and a frog. All three were found in the Cape Melville Mountains on the Cape York Peninsula. These three are added to a list consisting of six new species (three frogs, two skinks, and one gecko), from the same remote area

Remember all the school shootings of recent? Guess what the local high school is raffling off for the sports teams? YEP guns. It was questioned by the local news rag and they justified the raffle saying this is a hunting community. Also the next school district has armed its staff with handguns. It was not disclosed how many or who though.

Old habits die hard. Anyway, Jace, thanks for the ecard and update. Good to hear that the OH gang is doing well including the new 4-month old grandson. Happy babysitting the father of your great grandson!

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has accepted "full responsibility" for ensuring the troubled healthcare website gets fixed. Speaking in Boston, he said he was "not happy" about the glitch-laden project, but made a full-throated defence of the broader 2010 healthcare law. Earlier, his embattled health secretary apologised to the American people over the botched website rollout.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has been hacking data links connecting Yahoo and Google's data centres, according to leaks by Edward Snowden. Millions of records were gleaned daily from the internet giants' internal networks, documents published by the Washington Post indicate.

A bust of Winston Churchill has been dedicated on Capitol Hill, in a move that will delight champions of the so-called special relationship between the US and Britain. The indomitable British statesman will reside alongside the statues of former US presidents in the marble-pillared Statuary Hall. Wednesday's ceremony found congressional leaders in rare agreement - on the cigar-chomping wartime leader's legacyOR Richie will be pleased about that.

The world is facing a wine shortage, with global consumer demand already significantly outstripping supply, a report has warned. The research by America's Morgan Stanley financial services firm says demand for wine "exceeded supply by 300m cases in 2012". It describes this as "the deepest shortfall in over 40 years of records". There's been a glut of wine in Oz for years, so maybe Australian producers will take advantage of the world shortage.

I've been off the plonk since the cancer surgery and radiation, which made it taste revolting.

A young boy took to the stage with the Pope during a family event held at the Vatican. He was so confident he even sat in Pope Francis's white chair. The boy lingered on the stage, giving the Pope a hug and sticking by his side. The delightful charm of innocence.

Lindsay walked into the kitchen, put something in the trash, then timed his announcement to end as he disappeared out the door. "My worst fear - Sue's not coming home. I'll find a new place and move out." So that's his way of spreading the gloom. I knew Sue wouldn't be coming back anyway... our GP let it slip. But Lindsay's hoping his moving out will upset my plans and depress me. He's forgetting that his share of the rent here ($100 a week) would hardly pay for a tent. Then he has the cost of a removalist, a bond on the new premises, a bond for connection of power and phone, and, and, and... All the furniture and appliances are mine. All he has is a few pots and pans. In any case, I'll handle whatever eventuality arises. No wukkers.

As to Sue not coming back, well, I remember having to buy my third fridge because she kept raiding my other two and stealing my plonk. I remember her insisting that all the appliances belonged to her and Lindsay; that they bought them. That really worried me for a time because I realized I couldn't prove ownership and that it would be my word against theirs. I remember her attacking me with both fists and screaming "YOU'RE NOT MY CARER!" I remember the frequent stares of anger when her eyes would turn black each time I dared disagree with something she said. I'm not afraid to say these past 4 or 5 weeks have been bliss without Sue here.

I think I can safely say that no one in his right mind would have tolerated what I have these past 12 years. I did it because I was desperate. I needed a job and that was the only one I could find. I admit it suited me. It meant I could pursue my interests from home. So, ladies and genitals, the end of an era is nigh, and with it the dawn of a new beginning. Gary

October 30, 2013. One of those days when the computer decides to go wonky. My ISP's mail server won't accept my password for some obscure reason. Did a Malware scan, deleted a few suspects, rebooted, and still no luck. Waiting for a call-back from my ISP now. I was 23rd in line so who knows how long that will take. Bugger!

And in the meantime, Nancy did her thing. Swish, swish, swish, scrape, scrape, scrape. It's getting pretty tender in there and more painful. "That a good sign, Gary. Pain is good!" Yeah, right. According to Nancy, I'm now "part of the family" at the dental practice and the whole joint will be in attendance at my pizza celebration. Hehe.

For some weeks I've been meaning to update the My Rig page to include more recent pics and a brief history. Check it out here.

FL Josh wrote: You  mentioned Clark Little's favorite shot, with the brilliant fan effect of two waves intersecting, but you failed to include it.  Only one pic arrived with the mail, Josh, and that's the one I posted. Thanks for the new one.

You are attacking semantics as to your analysis of Clark Little's comment "I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn't, than to live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is," not content.  It is clear he was saying, "I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die only to have it turn out there isn't, than to live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is."

I understand what he meant to say, Josh, but that's not what he did say, and I was commenting on the latter.

As to your friend who was clinically dead for 8 minutes without having a near death experience, that is not proof that there is no life after death. That is only proof that your friend did not have a near death experience. We don't know what causes some people to have them, both believers and non-believers, and others not.  When my grandmother died at the age of 94, she slipped into a coma, then three days later, suddenly stirred, opened her eyes, and said, "George, is that you?" George being her husband, who had died 21 years earlier, then she closed her eyes and peacefully died.  She was born exactly 127 years ago today, on October 30, 1886.

More semantics. I said I know OF one person; I didn't say I knew him. He wasn't a friend. His name was Kerry Packer, media baron of Oz. If he hadn't been famous he would never have been interviewed, let alone quoted. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that Kerry's experience was not a near death experience. The 'near' is missing, right? He was dead as a doornail for 8 minutes but that doesn't count. However, I do have experience at being the first person recognized by a friend waking from a coma. Just before I walked into the hospital ward, I was warned by his relatives and girlfriend gathered in the hall not to be alarmed when I was met with a blank stare. They said he'd just regained consciousness but wasn't cognizant of anyone or anything, not even them. To my surprise, the moment I entered the room he grinned and called my name. Then he asked where I'd parked the Mercedes Benz. I had sold the Mercedes some years beforehand. But that's where his memory was at that particular moment. Go figure.

TX Greg wrote: I agree totally about the auto checkout. I hate those stupid things, plus they have cameras on you with someone watching to make sure you don't steal something. If youre paying someone to watch I think they should get up off their ass and help sack, right? What the hell happened to good old customer service? Remember those FULL service gas stations? Well Richie might want to comment here as he can still enjoy that luxury, as in Oregon it is illegal to pump your own gas. Yes you pay a little more for the service, but helps keep people employed...

You tell 'em, Greg. Atta boy! So that's what Oregonian gas pumpers sound like? Actually, when self serve petrol stations were introduced to Oz I was terrified of poking that big thing into my car but I eventually got the hang of it, and now it makes me feel all macho and butch. I wish someone would run the squeegee over the windscreen though. I miss that.

Speaking of serving, OR Richie has a new job with a large department store that sells upscale appliances, and he's doing really well. He's been through a terrible time this past year or two. It got so bad he was seriously depressed about his future. But then, outta the blue, his luck changed. Now, he's wearing flash new threads, making nice bucks at his new place of employment, and getting along just fine with everyone. And... his missus thinks he's the ant's pants. How cool is that?

My 15amp adaptor arrived just now so next time I hurtle off into the distance with PJ I'll be able to fire up the fridge overnight using electrickety. It's quite a sizeable gizmo, much larger than I expected. Good brand too, Powertech, same as the portable 12V charger for the comp, which works like a charm. According to the eBay seller, RRP is $125 so $70 and free postage is a bloody good deal!

How's that for an interesting perspective of a '39 Chevy? I used to get a kick out of leaning forward and peering over the top of the steering wheel at the front of my Beetle. I thought all the curves were cute as.

Anyway, time to throw a leg over the horse and gallop off into the sunset. It's a very small horse. Actually, it's not even a horse. Gary

October 29, 2013. FL Josh sent this: Waimea Bay shore-break surfing pioneer, husband, and father of two, Clark Little has gained nationwide recognition for his photography on National Television. It all started in 2007 when Clark's wife wanted a nice piece of art to decorate a wall. Voluntarily, Clark grabbed a camera, jumped in the water, and starting snapping away capturing the beauty and power of monstrous Hawaiian waves from the inside out. His fans pay as much as $4,000 for his gorgeous photos.

This shot is Clark's favourite.  With a high shutter speed he caught the brilliant fanned effect of two waves  intersecting each other and throwing out this beautiful fan of water. "Faith is not about everything turning out OK... Faith is about being 'OK' no matter how things turn out." Then he says, "I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn't, than to live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is."

Only a believer would make such a statement. Hehe. To die and find out there isn't would require consciousness after death. I know of one person who died and found out there isn't. He was dead for 8 minutes before being revived. In his case, life after death did indeed exist. "There's good news and there's bad news," he answered when asked about his experience.."The good news is there's no hell. The bad news is there's nothing." But his "eye witness" account didn't faze his critics. Shades of Galileo in the 15th century. Believers believe because they want to believe.

In any case, the photo is a stunner, and reminds me of Cody's description of his first green room.

I commented on a Red Bubbler's photo of star trails and he responded with, "And what else is going on that we're not aware of?" Hehe. He's not even blond or Irish.  Then there's the checkout chick yesterday who asked, "How are you?" I responded with "hello". And she said, "Oh, that's good."

How about the answers to these questions?

1. Which two days of the week start with the letter T?
2. How many seconds are there in a year?
3. What is the name of the Swagman in Waltzing Matilda?

Have you figured it out yet? Okay, here are the answers:

1. Today and tomorrow.
2. Twelve seconds. 2nd January, 2nd February, 2nd March, etc.
3. The Swagman in Waltzing Matilda was named Andy. 'Andy sat, Andy watched, Andy waited till his billy boiled...'

Best time to go for a haircut at Mark's is when dark clouds begin to gather, so I've just discovered. Not a soul there except Mark and me. But then I had to walk home dodging a few large spots of rain. And now there's rolling thunder. There was a thunder storm earlier as well but it didn't last long, which is normally the case here. They roll in from the west and pass over Taree on their way to the coast. A few flashes and bangs and that's about it.

Not a lot on the Beeb today except for the storms making a mess of Europe: A storm battering north-western Europe has killed at least 13 people - six of them in Germany. Two people died when their car was crushed by a falling tree in Gelsenkirchen, in western Germany. Two children in the car were injured. In Brittany, western France, a woman was swept out to sea. And in the Dutch city of Amsterdam a tree felled by the wind crushed a woman by a canal. Record gusts of 191 km/h (119mph) were measured over the North Sea

Lewis Allan Reed, better known as Lou, was a singer and guitarist famous for his deadpan voice and distinctive lyrics. In a career spanning many decades - both in the band The Velvet Underground and his subsequent solo career - he had a huge influence on the shape of rock music. That sax solo in Walk on the Wild Side is unforgettable.

And the colored girls go... doo do do do dooo...

I'm afraid it's been another lazy day, dear Breth. I'm not sure whether the cause is lack of mental stimulus, a serious case of lethargy or the wind-down period following a long and frustrating battle to realize the AO dream. I slept like a log last night and have napped twice today already. I don't feel ill, just dead tired. Maybe I should just go with the flow and not worry about it. I do have a tendency to be a bit of a worry wart.

Oh, yes, I remember something now. One of the GNs said some of the Woolworths supermarkets in certain towns are becoming fully self service, relying on auto checkouts and no checkout chicks. When he and his missus wheeled their cart to the checkout and saw that no checkout chick was on duty, he said to his wife within earshot of a store worker, "Just dump the trolley here, darling, and we'll go shop at Coles." Hehe. That worked, and they soon had a checkout chick scanning and packing their groceries. I don't like auto checkouts, never have and never use them.

Anyway, time to plonk the old bones in front of the telly and veg out. Again. Gary

October 28, 2013. What makes me me? Well, I must've been a bit psychic yesterday cos last night on telly was a story about a woman in her late 50s who bought a 4WD, kitted it out for camping, and took off to the Aussie Outback. Day 1, she said goodbye to her daughters, drove a few miles, pulled over, stopped at the side of the road, and said, "What the hell am I doing?" Then she had "a good little talk" with herself and continued on... but only for a few more miles and then stayed overnight in a motel. Hehe.

For a while her mind was plagued with the "what ifs" - what if I get a flat tire, what if I break down in the middle of nowhere, what if I can't light the stove, what if I come across undesirable people. So she eventually decided to stop thinking negatively and just carried on. And she kept carrying on for 6 years. She fell in love with the vastness of the outback. "It's miles and miles of nothing. But it's a good nothing. You feel safe out there. Nothing can hurt you." She said her experience in the outback has softened her; made her more tolerant, and given her confidence as well as self respect. She can't wait to do it all again.

As she told her story, I easily identified with her initial fears but also empathized with her feeling of oneness with nature. The Aborigines have always had a strong spiritual attachment to the land, and that's the way it became with this woman. "I was never lonely. It's impossible to feel lonely out there. There's a difference between feeling lonely and being alone. I've only ever felt lonely with other people."

I've longed sensed that as a person I'm incomplete, that there's a piece missing. And I suspect that missing piece will be found on the Odyssey.

Back from another irrigation and de-bone with Nancy and Emma. She reckons by Christmas the "garden" will be looking good. Two sockets are almost closed and vascularization is continuing to improve. I looked at the bits of dead bone plucked from my jaw and deposited on a sheet of paper, and was surprised by the size of them. Slowly but surely, the extent of the exposed bone is being whittled away. She's already picked the pizza restaurant where we're going to celebrate, and it's not one of those cheapie joints. It's an Italian gourmet restaurant. Funnily enough, I wrote about it in one of my stories but I've never been there.

Soooooo, what does Booti Booti camping area look like? Here's one pic. And here's another one. And yet another one. Sooooo, when's the departure date? I've just paid the power bill soooooo I'd like a few bob in the bank in case of an emergency. Next month, I have an appointment with the doc in Port Macquarie but then I have to be back in Taree the following day for an appointment with my local GP. Grrrr.

From the Beeb: The chief of the US spy agency NSA has not discussed the alleged bugging of German chancellor's phone with President Barack Obama, officials say. Gen Keith Alexander never discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Angela Merkel, an NSA spokeswoman said. German media say the US has been tapping the chancellor's phone since 2002, and Mr Obama was told in 2010. The row has led to the worst diplomatic crisis between the two countries in living memory.

US singer and former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed has died at the age of 71. Known for tracks including Perfect Day and Walk on the Wild Side, Reed was considered one of the most influential singers and songwriters in rock. The Velvet Underground became renowned for their fusion of art and music and for collaborating with Andy Warhol. Take A Walk On The Wild Side was, is and always will be one of my favs.

McDonald's has said it is to stop serving Heinz ketchup in its stores after 40 years. The world's biggest fast-food chain said it would drop the ketchup after Bernardo Hees, the former head of rival Burger King, took over as Heinz's chief executive. Well, the rest of the world's news pales into insignificance after hearing that.

We never had ketchup in Oz until fairly recently. These days there's a plethora of sauces - mustard, chilli, BBQ, steak, sweet and sour and god knows what else. But when I was a kid there were only two on the table - Holbrook's worchestershire and Rosella tamaaaaaaaata. Oh, yes, and Fountain's mint sauce for lamb. If we had salad mom would plonk a bottle of vinegar on the table.

That's a Herald-Sun photograph. Tsk, tsk. I wonder if anyone got a rocket up the clacker for leaving Tasmania off the map. That happened some years ago at a major sporting event. The Commonwealth Games? Anyway, Tassie was not amused and threatened to secede from the Commonwealth hehe. Here's a pic of the birdie after which the Rosella company is named. Sounds better than the latin 'platycercus-eximius' yeah? "Would you like a dollop of platycercus-eximius on ya dog's eye, mate?" Yeah, too right, mate, no wukkers. Make it two dollops!"

But tonight I'm having a good old fashioned curry, which is simmering on the stove as we speak... I speak. I'll have it with rice, which should find its way down the hatch without too much trouble. And then out the other end tomorrow with even less trouble hehe.

Wherefore hath the day flowneth? I dunno. I'm just sitting here. But it's time once again for me to bid thee farewell for another day. Gary

October 27, 2013. Had a frightening thought this morning: what if I were still as dumb today as I was 30 years ago. Hehe. So that begs the question, would one be better off having breezed through life without making any mistakes?

Yes, I did waddle around to St John's Anglican church last evening to take a pic of the blue cross through the jacaranda. The tree was too high to compose a decent shot of the flowers framing the blue cross. But while I was there, and the sun was setting, the smoke on the horizon (carried up this way by the wind from the bushfires down south) turned the sun deep red. I chased it on foot (puff, puff), trying to get a clear shot of it without poles and wires and ended up with this one posted on Red Bubble. The flash fired, dangit. It would have been better if it hadn't but I was in a panic to get the shot before the sun disappeared. 

This is a nice wide shot with part of the tree and the face of the church lit by the setting sun but it doesn't highlight the blue cross. Oh, well... another time.

FL Josh wrote: You said, "Been another lazy day with a capital L. Not sure why I feel guilty about that."  I'm sure you are thinking of things you could be doing, but you are retired and one of the benefits of being retired is you can do non-essential things whenever you want.  Enjoy the perk.  You earned it.

I'm not sure I did hehe. 

NC Art, on the other hand, has this to say about public loos: Some 30 years ago the wife and I were visiting Toronto and decided to take a bus trip to see the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Beautiful day for traveling and sightseeing and chatting with others on the journey. Among those was a Japanese student who kept us amused by his witty observations and near-perfect English. Also, he was dressed is a handsome white suit with obviously expensive hand tailoring, Also spotless white shoes and perfectly knotted purple necktie and pale blue shirt.

After several hours we stopped for lunch and potty break. I took off for the men’s facility and found the floor awash with smelly liquid, accumulation from men who could not shoot straight. I found the clearest spot I could and stood for the operation when our Japanese gentleman swept in. He proceeded to stomp through the slop, haul out and water everything in the general vicinity of the urinal, missing it most of the time and adding to the cesspool of a floor. What a shock!

If I learned anything from that, I am still wondering what it might be. So, maybe the folks who don’t flush have a reason: The toilet is stopped up and another flush could just catch you in the overflow?  Prudence.

GNs often refer to "long drop" toilets - a deep hole with a toot on top. Sounds rather basic but at least nothing can go wrong. Presumably. Hehe.

From the Beeb: The US has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone since 2002, according to a report in Der Spiegel magazine. The German publication claims to have seen secret documents from the National Security Agency which show Mrs Merkel's number on a list dating from 2002 - before she became chancellor. Her number was still on a surveillance list in 2013. It makes Obama's efforts to justify the NSA's activities look pretty lame.

Australia has been battling unseasonably bad bushfires for weeks. The flames have destroyed hundreds of homes - and have also intensified a political debate about whether there is a link with global warming

Slang such as ain't, innit and coz has been banned from a school in south London. Author Charles Nevin celebrates modern slang and revisits phrases that have fallen out of fashion. Cor lummy! Please do not misunderstand me. I love modern slang. It's as colourful, clever, and disguised from outsiders as slang ever was and is supposed to be. Take bare, for example, one of a number of slang terms recently banned by a London school. It means "a lot of", as in "there's bare people here", and is the classic concealing reversal of the accepted meaning that you also find in wicked, bad and cool. Victorian criminals did essentially the same with back slang, reversing words so that boy became yob and so on

Does anyone know who they are? Or why they are? I've never been able to figure that one out. How come just one of several million sperm fertilized an egg that became me? How come I wasn't one of my brothers instead of me? If it had been one of the other sperm that was successful in fertilizing the egg that became me, would I still be me? Were all the sperm me? Or were they 4 million other people? Hehe. I asked my doc that question one time and he didn't know. Anyway, it beats me. What makes me me? I know what shaped me - parents, environment, genes, etc., but that still doesn't explain why any particular individual is the person he or she is living in that particular body.

I suppose some religious people would say there's a whole bunch of souls in heaven waiting in line to be designated an earthly body. Or that a soul is created when a human baby is conceived. Sorry. I don't buy that. It might explain to some extent who "me" is, but where does "me" go when dementia sets in? If a soul is without a memory or consciousness, what the hell is it? We all know what happens when a person on life support is brain dead. So there ya go, I'm me and I'm not sure why.

Maybe that's the reason we all crave an identity. Kids do it by copying each other. Adults do it by becoming mothers and fathers, and/or pursuing a career. But none of that explains my original question.

Another thing I thought was rather interesting was a program on telly last night about releasing white rhino back into the African wild (albeit a national park) after they'd been raised in captivity to preserve the species. Those things are about as ungainly looking as you can get, with a weird shaped head. But have you seen one trot? Pure grace. Poetry in motion. Hippos are the same. And they can run quite fast! Faster than you or me! Especially me hehe.

Anyway, one of these days when I'm boiling the billy somewhere out in the wilds of Oz, it might dawn on me why I'm me. Till then, I'll have to keep wondering. Gary

October 26, 2013. Now here's something NC Art will identify with - it's a vehicle (kinda half car, half truck) put together by a farmer using junk lying around the property and in the shed. Thanks to Francois and Dio for sending the pics. Click here for the album. (Scroll down for captions)

FL Josh saved me $25 on the price of the 15amp power adaptor by finding a cheaper retailer on eBay. Thanks, Josh! I really appreciate that. There's one on the way to my place now. Josh also a wrote a lengthy explanation of how those things work... it is probably a safe assumption you could turn on everything in PJ and still not draw enough to trip the circuit breaker. Too right, mate. It'll give me an opportunity to see if the a/c works though.

I remember during hot summers as a kid, my mother had her own form of a/c. She would dunk a cotton dress in cold water, wring it out, and wear it around the house. When I tried it she told me I looked silly wearing her dresses. :o)

Now, about the tool boxes for PJ. There's not enough room in those things for bulky stuff, but there is for smaller stuff like ropes, pegs, hoses and all the other bits and pieces I have. The idea is to store much of the smaller stuff in the tool boxes to free up enough room in one of the larger storage boxes for the porta potti. Yeah? Beats carrying it on the front seat. Ew! Also, I discovered on day 2 of the shakedown that storing things like camp furniture overnight (in case of theft) in the cab was much better than in the camper, where it became cluttered. The ol' live and learn trick. During travelling time, camp furniture is stored in the cab over. So it's a bit like musical chairs, but it works.

Oh yes, toilet paper. I discovered that in public loos the loo paper is rolled around a rectangular shaped, fixed core that prevents the paper being peeled off in long, wasteful reams. Because it's only single ply, you have to peel off several sheets by unravelling the paper backwards until you have a decent length that can be folded in half, and half again. I was also a bit peeved at how many people don't bother (or forget) to flush after use. Yuck! I suppose I'll just have to toughen up a little if I'm gonna survive travelling Oz for several years.

From the Beeb: Germany is to send its top intelligence chiefs to Washington to "push forward" an investigation into allegations the US spied on its leader Angela Merkel. The heads of foreign and domestic intelligence would hold talks with the White House and the National Security Agency, a government spokesperson said.

Angela Merkel the German PM arrives at Passport Control at Paris Charles De Gaulle airport.

"Nationality?" asks the immigration officer.

"German," she replies. ...


"No; just here for a few days."

A rolling stone gathers no moss, right? I was thinking about having lived here in Taree for 12 years. Prior to that, and after losing my house in Glebe where I lived for 13 years, I lived in 12 different places in just 9 years. So I suppose my time in Taree has given me some stability and the opportunity to plan what I'll do with the rest of my life. That's at least one plus for which I should be grateful.

While I don't believe in crying over spilt milk, I do wish I'd had the brains to do some things differently. When I sold my house in '91, the estate agent offered me a bed-sitter apartment in a small block a short distance away in Ferry Rd, close to the Glebe Rowing Club and Blackwattle Bay. It was $40K, which is what I had left over from the sale of the house, and paying the bank. I would have owned it outright - no rent to pay. It's probably worth quarter of a mill now. But, no, I chose to move over to the north side of Sydney and rent. The $40K was gone in 18 months just on living expenses.

Another option would have been to buy a motorhome but it didn't cross my mind. Oh, well... cest la vie.

In pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and a generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol has a generic name of acetaminophen. Aleve is also called naproxen. Amoxil is called amoxicillin and Advil is also called ibuprofen. The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of mycoxafloppin. Also considered were mycoxafailin, mydixadrupin, mydixarizin, mydixadud, dixafix, and of course ibepokin
Here's one for Art...

A crusty old marine corps colonel found himself at a gala event downtown, hosted by a local liberal arts college. There was no shortage of extremely young, idealistic ladies in attendance, one of whom approached the colonel for conversation. She said, "Excuse me, sir, but you seem to be a very serious man. Are you this way all the time, or is something bothering you?"

"No," the colonel said, "just serious by nature."

The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, "It looks like you have seen a lot of action."

The colonel's short reply was, "Yes, a lot of action."

The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, "You know, you should lighten up a little - relax and enjoy yourself."

The colonel just stared at her in his serious manner.

Finally the young lady said, "You know, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but when is the last time you had sex?"

The colonel looked at her and replied, "1955."

She said, "Well there you go; you really need to chill out and quit taking everything so seriously - I mean, no sex since 1955, isn't that a little extreme?"

The colonel, glancing at his watch, said in his matter-of-fact voice, "Oh, I don't know. It's only 2130 now."
Been another lazy day with a capital L. Not sure why I feel guilty about that. Or maybe I do. Yesterday, on the way home, I saw a jacaranda tree in full bloom looking very nice indeedy. It's only a single tree but behind it is a church steeple at the top of which sits a blue cross that's lit at night. And I thunk to myself, that would make a nice pic - the purple jacaranda with a blue cross in the background. It's about a block and a half from here... not far enough to drive but a fair walk for an old codger like me. Hmmm. Should I walk? The cross won't be lit until about 6.30. All will be revealed tomorrow. Gary

October 25, 2013. Another beeeeeautiful spring day! But what will I DO with it? Dunno, really. Might take a trip out to Bunnings and get a 15amp extension lead and 15amp household adapter so next time I fire up PJ's fridge overnight I can use house power. They'll be handy for camp sites where mains power is available too.

Christmas is rapidly approaching but I'm hoping I can get Peter the engineer's jobs done this year - the tool boxes, fridge panel door, grab handle and awning wheel. A new spare tire is another one. I'm anticipating that the Big Lap will start some time during the first half of next year. Meanwhile, I'll stick to Mini O's on a regular basis. But even when I'm on the road full time, I'll still need to visit the specialist in Sydney every 3 months, as well as the Oncologust in Port Macquarie. I expect that to continue to be the case for a couple of years yet so I won't be straying too far west for a while. That's cool - there's a helluva lot to see on the eastern side of the continent.

TX Greg wrote: Booti Booti sounds like a place that the "buxom visitor in the red swimsuit" might show up to give you some BOOTY, HAHAHA. That's a huge park. Found a park brochure with a map...

Yep, it's a big area. I went there a couple of times in TT on day trips, so I'll be nice to hang around for a few days. As to buxom visitors, I don't even wanna think about that possibility.

XYZ popped up outta the blue: ...just checking to see how yur doing So what do I See? Yup, ornery as ever. DON'T EVER CHANGE.

Ornery? Who's ornery? Me? Where on earth did you get that idea from? Maybe you meant ordinary hehe. Anyway, what you "see" on Waffle, Gerry, is the persona I project. The real me is sweet, unassuming, kind and lovable - a bit like FL Josh.

From the Beeb: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has said it is "really not on" for friends to spy on each other, after allegations of US snooping on her phone calls. She said she had given that message to US President Barack Obama when they spoke on Wednesday. Speaking after the first day of an EU summit in Brussels, Mrs Merkel said France and Germany wanted to hold talks with the US to settle the matter. Other EU leaders also voiced concern about the scale of US surveillance. Now, if Edward Snowden had been a good boy, no one would be any the wiser.

Interesting program on telly last night about "the myth" that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease. It appears that sugar was and still is the culprit, as well as stress. I think it's 80 to 90% of the body's cholesterol that is actually made by the body. If intake is reduced, the body makes up the difference anyway. After my heart attack in 2002, I was given all kinds of dietary advice before I left hospital and ignored the lot. Hehe. I've never been into fatty foods all that much in any case, but I do love butter. Marg schmarg. Here's a link to the story.

Yes, and deep fried chips! Not the soggy, saggy ones you get from some fish 'n' chip shops, but the golden crisp ones I make myself using vegetable oil. I like deep fried Asian foods too, such as prawns, dim sims and spring rolls. Deep fried fish is nice too. And, and, and, and...

It wasn't all that long ago that eggs were being blamed for increasing cholesterol. After my heart attack they said no more than 1 or 2 a week. Now they're saying eat as many as you like. 

Back from Bunnings! The power lead was easy to get... 15amp, 15 meters, extra heavy duty, $26. But they don't stock the adaptor for domestic use. They say they can't find a manufacturer or source them. But they do have a unit you can have fixed to your house. Yeah, right. My house? Anyway, I found one on eBay. Not cheap but handy in cases where I might camp in someone's backyard. It's on my watch list so I'll buy it later.

A Testimony to True Mateship

A bloke brings his best mate home for dinner unannounced at 5.30 p.m. after work. His wife screams at him as his friend listens in, "My hair & makeup are not done, the house is a mess, the dishes are not done, I'm still in my pyjamas, and I can't be bothered with cooking tonight! What the hell did you bring him home for?"

"Because he's thinking of getting married." 
We had a power outage last week and my PC, TV and games console shut down immediately, it was raining- I couldn't play golf so I talked to my wife for a few hours.

She seems like a nice person.
Today I was beaten up by a woman...I was in the elevator when this busty young lady got in. Naturally, I was staring at her boobs, when she said, Would you please press 1..?

So I did.

I don't remember much after that....
Well, I dunno where the damn time went today. It's not like I did a helluva lot. One of life's mysteries, I guess. Gary

October 24, 2013. Pay day - pension day. Goodbye $930 in rent and power alone! When those power bills arrive, it's like forget any extra spending for a while. But I do get $230 back from L&S for their share of the rent and power. Funny ya know, Lindsay's splitting hairs about Stan's lawn mowing and the last time he paid his share. I can't remember (it's been so dry the lawn hasn't grown a millimeter in months) and can't be bothered working it out. But I notice Lindsay has been using the phone a helluva lot lately with Sue in hospital - several calls a day - and who pays the bill? He's had free use of that phone for 12 years and has never offered one cent towards the cost. One time I told him it wasn't just the cost of the calls but also the cost of line rental which is $30 a month or $360 a year. Multiply that by 12 years and you get $4320. He shrugged and walked off, as usual.

Hell, I don't even need the damn phone. I have wireless internet connection and a mobile phone. But I can imagine the outcry if I told him I was cutting the phone off cos I didn't need it. Hehe. That's what it would take for him to realize what a good deal he's getting. But I let it slide cos I'm not THAT nasty.

What's it like to be a sailor? I was greatly impressed by this piece written by a GN and posted this morning. It's given me a whole new insight into what it really means to be a yachtie.

NC Art sent this link: This car chase was on the CA-241 toll road in Orange County,CA . This could have been on a Benny Hill episode, but it is an actual police chase with a woman driver.

And on the subject of the "working poor" and cost of living, FL Josh wrote: You commented that even Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were better off than those people you saw on the television the night before who were earning around $450 every two weeks at Walmart.  Walmart pays an average of almost $13 an hour for a full time worker so for 80 hours for two weeks, that would be around $1040 every two weeks.  Minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25, although many states have higher, so obviously the person making $450 every two weeks was part time, working three 8 hour shifts a week, and having four days off.  Also, keep in mind the cost of living is far less in the U.S. than Oz, for example the company I buy my vitamins from, Puritan Pride, has as the regular price for Vitamin E, 1000 IU capsules, 3 50-capsule bottles for $10.99 compared to the sale price of just under $30 you paid, almost three times as much.  3 100-capsule bottles are even cheaper at $19.99

Point taken. And now on the subject of nooses and necks: I can't believe that story about the guy hanged in Iran for 12 minutes and was still alive.  When a person is hanged, the knot goes on the side of their head and when the body drops and rope pulls tight, it snaps the neck, killing them.  If the Iranians let him hang for 12 minutes, it sounds like they are killing by strangulation, a slow and painful death, instead of the instantaneous snap of the neck.

From the Beeb: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called US President Barack Obama after receiving information that the US may have spied on her mobile phone. A spokesman for Mrs Merkel said the German leader "views such practices... as completely unacceptable". Mrs Merkel called on US officials to clarify the extent of their surveillance in Germany.

A 13-year-old boy carrying a replica assault rifle has been shot dead by police in the US state of California. Officers in the city of Santa Rosa say they opened fire after the boy refused orders to drop the rifle, which they believed to be real. The shooting on Tuesday is now being investigated. It comes a day after a 12-year-old boy in Nevada gunned down a maths teacher at his school and wounded two fellow pupils before taking his own life.

Couldn't find anything on the Beeb about our firies today, but here in Oz they're being lauded, together with other fire fighting officials, for their heroic efforts to contain the raging bushfires around Sydney and other parts of NSW during the past week or so. There were a lot of relieved residents in those areas after the threat of extreme weather conditions eased and gave firies a chance to get on top of the situation. It was a mammoth task and one which has revived the debate about whether or not the fires were the result of global warming. Meanwhile, it's still mid spring, and we have a whole summer to get through yet.

I mentioned a while back that NC Art had sent a bunch of historic photos, a different set to the previous one of some months ago. This morning I assembled them into an album with captions.

I suppose I better start thinking about where I'll go for my next shakedown. A beach sounds good, especially in weather like we're having today. I have a beach shelter so I could plonk my skinny butt out on the sand without getting burnt. Although I'd prefer to do my sand-between-the-toes trick early morning and late afternoon. It's a good time for photography as well. Yes, a bit of salt air would be very pleasant for a change. Booti Booti National Park sounds noice.

No animals were harmed in the transmission of this message but a great number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

Well, I suppose I better think about closing up shop for another day and catching up with a bit of telly. Byeeeeee. Gary

October 23, 2013. Nancy didn't seem all that surprised about my finding the SMH article about her and avocados. She's probably heard it a million times. Meanwhile, a new nurse wielded the vacuum as Nancy did the irrigation thing, and also chipped away at dead bone. She explained to the new nurse what the procedure was all about, and pointed out areas that used to be open (previously home to the roots of teeth) but were now covered by increasingly vascularized gum tissue. Tissue won't grow over dead bone, which is why Nancy chips away at it twice a week to expose the living bone. Much of the area (which Nancy calls "The Garden") is very tender which means the blood supply is producing nerve endings. All good news, Nancy says. It'll be our first anniversary "hanging out together" next month, hehe. And she's looking forward to us going out to celebrate at a pizza restaurant when it's all done and dusted.

So now I'm understanding why the medication prescribed by the specialist in Sydney, Dr Clark, is not enough to do the job by itself. Nancy's constant irrigations and removal of dead tissue, keeps the healing process moving along, which is why she refers to it as tending the garden - removing the weeds and fertilizing the soil to encourage growth. The treatment is something I could never afford, not in a million years, so I'm one lucky boy to have found Nancy to look after me.

Seems like a million years ago I had the stomach tube and all that radiation business. My brain's filed it away in the dark reaches of the Distant Memories Department, like it never really happened. I'm realizing now how desperately I clung to the Odyssey dream to provide some worthwhile light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.

BTW, I asked Nancy what kind of truck she was driving yesterday - a Toyota HiLux. The HiLux used to be much smaller, like my Courier, but now all those utes are huge with high trays. Ford has discontinued the Courier and replaced it with the Ranger. However, it should be borne in mind that the Mazda B-Series and Ford Ranger twins sold in North America are unrelated to the ones sold elsewhere. These are engineered by Mazda, whereas the North American models are developed by Ford. (Wikipedia)

Foreign Correspondent last night did a story about America's "Working Poor" in Jersey. How depressing it was! A young woman went through college and passed her exams with flying colors to become a journalist. She worked for a TV station in Orlando where she was the anchor for a news program and paid $20K a year. She quit to find something with better pay and ended up in Jersey working in a bar essentially for tips. Some years earlier she was savaged by a pit bull terrier that almost severed her leg. Treatment in hospital took months and cost several hundred thousand dollars which she didn't have. Luckily for her, they treated her as a charity case. If she'd been earning slightly more, she would have had to pay. Another story was about a bloke with a wife and three kids all living in one room. He drove an old beat up car with torn roof lining and peeling paintwork. He worked at Walmart and was paid fornightly. If his paycheck was $500 for the two weeks, he considered himself lucky. Normally, it was about $420 or $430. Jesus Christ, I make almost twice that on a pension. There were other stories of people in similar situations, all searching for "the American Dream". In Oz, the hourly rate for most workers is in the mid to high teens, and around $20 if you're a shift worker or work weekends.

I grew up watching American sit coms like My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, etc, where everyone lived in a two-storey house with double garage in a tree-lined street and had oodles of money. Yeah, right. Sheesh, even Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were better off than those people I saw on telly last night.

Back from getting my expensive Vitamin E. Well, it was expensive. There's a new discount drug store in town so I investigated. They were selling the 1000iu E I normally get for $10 less. Woohoo! But then the lady asked if I really wanted Blackmore's. *Shrug* She had another brand on sale because it was the last of the batch and they weren't manufacturing 1000iu any more. So I bought the last 3 bottles (150 capsules) for less than $30. What a steal! 

From the Beeb: More than 3,000 firefighters in Australia are battling devastating bushfires raging across New South Wales as weather conditions worsen. "This will be as bad as it gets," Rural Fire Service chief Shane Fitzsimmons said, adding there was "real potential for more loss of homes and life". High temperatures, low humidity and strong winds of up to 100km/h (60mph) were forecast for Wednesday. In total, 59 fires are burning across the state, 19 of which are uncontained. This is the third day running that this has been the Beeb's lead story.

You can imagine the news media here in Oz... wall to wall fire coverage.

Iran's justice minister says there is "no need" for a man who survived a hanging to be hanged a second time. Lawyers want the head of the judiciary to stop a repeat hanging after the man was found alive in a morgue. Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said executing the man would have repercussions against Iran's image, the ISNA news agency reported. Bloody hell, how macabre!

Money might not grow on trees, but scientists have confirmed that gold is found in the leaves of some plants. Researchers from Australia say that the presence of the particles in a eucalyptus tree's foliage indicates that deposits are buried many metres below. They believe that the discovery offers a new way to locate the sought-after metal in difficult-to-reach locations. That explains why GNs are now using their metal detectors to scan trees!

A UK cardiologist is calling for a change in public health advice on saturated fat. Dr Aseem Malhotra says the risks have been overstated, with other factors such as sugar intake being overlooked. It is time to "bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease", he writes in an opinion piece in the British Medical Journal.

A couple of times I've posted pics of De Sotos that were *almost* the same as my dad's. But the other day I found one that, apart from color, is exactly the same model as my dad's. It's a '56 Diplomat according to the photographer, which was what my dad's was, but light green. I thought his was a '54 because the US styling was different from '55 onwards. So that means Chrysler in Oz was manufacturing the De Soto here and kept the same model going for a few more years until the Chrysler Royal came along in '57. It was basically the same car with a restyled front end and a couple of fins plonked on the back. So there ya go, dad's was flasher than I thunk. His boss had a new one which I remember as a kid going to work with dad during school vacation. He promised himself he would own one of those cars one day, and he did - albeit 8 years later.

And that's about it for today's Waffle. Catch you again on the morrow. Gary

October 22, 2013. TX Greg wrote: Was that light poles on the dock? If so that could have made for a cool night shot... What a unusual shape, sort of looks like missiles, hehe.

Those white-topped poles are standard issue around here in the Manning Valley. They're not lights, but could be reflective material for boaties arriving back in shore at night.

Glad to hear the fridge worked. Now you still need to give a test on electric to make sure the heating element is ok too. Don't forget now that you turned the fridge back off to leave the door open for a day or two to let it dry out inside. You don't want a surprise of mold and mildew the next time you open the fridge door.

Now, really, Greg. I mean, do you honestly think I wouldn't have thought of that? Hehe. Yeah... well the fridge door is now wide open. And so is the back door to remind me not to drive away without closing it first. BTW, the other thing that worked like a charm was the laptop 12V charger. I checked the AGM a couple of times and it didn't budge from 14V. The fresh water tap switch is buggered, though, so I used the backup switch installed by Andrew.

NC Art wrote: Your bush fires are getting press notice even in this little burg on the Eastern coast of Hamerica. Sounds bad as it can get?

That's what the Premier of NSW said last night on telly... this is about as bad as it gets. Tomorrow is forecast to get back to hot westerly winds and the firies are really worried about it. Two kids, one 15 and one 11 have been arrested for arson. Can you believe that? Meanwhile, our PM is making headlines as a volunteer firie in the thick of the action. He's been a volunteer firie for decades. His critics, of course, are saying it's all a publicity stunt.

Anyhoo, I think your shakedown cruise was a good and educational event. Now all you have to do is cope with pesky health issues on the fly, but you’ll get there. New surroundings always require imagination and adjustment. Actually, the photos reminded me of a song about the snowbird [powdered coke sniffing?] done by Patty Como and Elvis Presley.

The wind along the river seems to say
That she’ll only break my heart again if I decide to stay
Little snowbird take me with you when you go
To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow.

The one I loved forever is untrue
And if I could you know I would
Just fly away with you.

But stick to beer; inhaling lines of coke give a great boost, but costs everything for an ephemeral high. Hehe.

Beer and wine, and very occasionally spirits, that's me. I've never been interested in anything else. 'Cept Vegemite on toast.

Two days after the shakedown and I'm beginning to feel pretty good about having done it. I'm also thinking about what I did wrong, or could have done better, and figuring out ways to improve the experience. Today, for example, is sunny and bright with no wind and I'm thinking of how pleasant it was to be sitting in my camp chair in similar conditions checking out the view. In such situations, it's sooooooo easy to let the day drift by without doing a damn thing except a little thinking or keyboarding.

Come to think of it, even a murder of noisy crows didn't upset me, and they were at it all day long. Normally those things drive me nutty with their constant maudlin cries. I found the antics of a lively group of red and yellow-breasted fairy wrens dashing and darting amongst the nearby brush far more appealing, and the bush turkey plodding around looking for unsuspecting insects whilst keeping an ever watchful eye on me.

Mind you, at a place like Wingham Brush which attracts a lot of day trippers - boaties and picnickers - there's a lot of traffic that passes one's camp site. If you're inside the camper, they all peer through the screened door trying to see who's inside hehe And if you're outside lazing in a camp chair, they wave. I have no idea why they wave. Maybe they believe it's obligatory. In any case, one sensed a solemn duty to respond in kind, and then spent all day waving at total strangers.

The steamer saucepan worked well for warming food as well. Good for moist foods, but not for dry. In fact, I'll use the same technique here in the house for pre-cooked stuff instead of having it explode in the micro.

Well, well, well, goodness gracious me, I didn't know Nancy was famous! FL Josh did a google for some obscure reason and found an article about Nancy - The Avocado Queen of Taree. By the way, that's not Nancy's patient, that's Emma the dental nurse who gives me heaps of cheek. She's currently studying for her dental degree or whatever they call it. Both those girls are irascible scallywags, lemme tellya. Josh wrote to explain: It doesn't seem that any of your other regulars care, so the duty of surrogate nagging mother is up for grabs.

Try grandmother. Besides, the "other regulars" know better. And yes, my mouthwash is alcohol free.

Speak of the devil, who should be honking the 4WD at an intersection to grab my attention? None other than Nancy, waving furiously from the driver's window. I was driving PJ home after a little shopping. I'd imagined Nancy as being the driver of a little sporty thing not a huge bloody truck! Speaking of la femme drivers, I was parked parallel to the kerb in the last rearward spot with the spot in front of me vacant. So as I prepared to leave my spot, a girl in a "little sporty thing" pulled up and began reversing into the spot in front. Soooo, I reversed further back, and she kept coming. Did she then drive forward? Nope. She stayed where she was and occupied two spots. Sooooo, I reversed even further back so I could get out, which the driver of the car behind me, waiting to occupy my spot, didn't appreciate. Last I saw, the girl was rummaging through her handbag, oblivious to all and sundry, and still occupying two spots while the car behind me was still waiting for her to move forward.

While shopping, I couldn't resist the temptation to buy 3 Jamie Oliver all-purpose storage tins for $8 each. They're the old fashioned type you'd expect to find on a kitchen shelf in an English thatched cottage. Storage for flour, coffee, tea, etc. Each comes with its own little wooden scoop, and has plastic lining around the lid to keep contents fresh. And a little label holder on the face to write what the contents are. Lots of spare labels too! Cute as.

And guess what? The fresh water tap switch is working again.

Billeeeeeee posted that pic on the GN forum, inspired by the tootsie pic of me and PJ.

From the Beeb: French President Francois Hollande has expressed "deep disapproval" over claims the US National Security Agency secretly tapped phone calls in France. In a phone conversation with US President Barack Obama, he said this was "unacceptable between friends and allies", demanding an explanation. The White House said the claims "raise legitimate questions", seeking to ease French concerns. The NSA has recently spied on 70.3m phone calls in France, it is claimed. Pesky whistle blowers.

Fire fighters in Australia deliberately joined two large fires near the Blue Mountains as part of efforts to control bushfires across New South Wales. Extensive back-burning operations were being deployed in anticipation of worsening conditions on Wednesday, the NSW fire commissioner said. On Tuesday morning more than 60 blazes were still alight, with 13 uncontained

Here's a slide show of bushfire photos.

CIA drone attacks in Pakistan are responsible for unlawful killings, some of which could amount to war crimes, Amnesty International says. Amnesty said it reviewed nine recent drone strikes in North Waziristan and found a number of victims were unarmed. In a separate report looking at six US attacks in Yemen, Human Rights Watch says two of them killed civilians at random, violating international law. The times they are a-changin'.

The Australian Capital Territory has become the first part of Australia to legalise same-sex marriage. The ACT parliament passed a bill that will allow gay couples to marry, after a short debate on Tuesday. Celebrants will now be allowed to marry same-sex couples inside the ACT, regardless of which state they live in. Federal law, however, specified in 2004 that marriage was between a man and a woman, and the federal government is expected to challenge the move. That'll be interesting. Will the real Tony Abbott stand up.

Well, dear Breth, that's it for Chewsdee. Off to see Nancy again in the morning so I'll mention the avocado thing. Remember how Cody used to swap a bite of his pie for a bite of Mark's avo sarmie during school lunch break? Hehe. He thought Mark was so clever cos he made his own sarmies for school lunch. Cody never got past toast and peanut butter. Anyway, reminiscing aside, it's time to toddle off to telly land - after I lock up PJ, that is. Gary

October 21, 2013. It's late. I've been working on the photo album for most of the day (as well as last night) but had to keep trashing it because this new jAlbum program has changes which took me ages to figure out... like why it kept jumbling the order of pics, and why the file was so huge in the first place. Grrrrrr. I'm always reticent to upgrade programs for that very reason but jAlbum kept pestering me. Anyway...

To add insult to injury, I received another tirade from FL Josh about the evils of smoking and drinking alcohol. My mention of buying a six-pack of beer at Wingham was enough to send him into another of his fire-and-brimstone frenzies. Six small bottles of beer, three of which I still have - one beer a day. Maybe he should write to Nancy instead. She recommended a large bottle of stout a day (or Guinness) to help me put on weight. Fair dinkum... why me?

Anyway, nuffa that. The First Shakedown photo album, complete with captions, is now on line for your oggling pleasure.

Sooooooo, one thing I didn't expect was the upheaval to my schedule caused by a couple of days camping. I won't be able to enjoy camping as much as I should until I can eat normal food, speak normally, and attain a reasonable level of fitness to cope with life in the bush. Nancy is on a mission to prove to Dr Clark, the specialist, that the technique she's using now should have been started at the very beginning. It would have been all over by now if she had. That said, she's pretty happy with the progress. She also suggested a few more exciting places to visit for my next shakedowns... Wingham is not exactly top of her list of "must visit" places hehe.

Yes, I am a bit underwhelmed by shakedown #1, mainly because of my fitness and diet issues but also because I wasn't very well organized and probably expected too much. I intend to make a few changes next time. So I guess you could say the learning curve was worthwhile. As the more experienced GNs say to the newbies, don't worry about it. You'll learn as you go.

Actually, one thing I learned is that flies don't bother you if you're not sweating. And the best way to avoid sweating is to do bugger all. Fine with me. And the fridge? Yes, the fridge - it works very well.

From the Beeb: Bushfires in Australia's New South Wales could merge to form a massive blaze, the fire commissioner has said as teams battle fires across the state. Three fires near Lithgow, a city by the Blue Mountains, are thought to be at risk of merging into one fire front. New South Wales has been badly hit by bushfires after the hottest September on record. It has declared a state of emergency. Officials say conditions are likely to worsen this week. I heard the update on the radio a little while ago... not good.

Former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has said that a repeat of the crisis that brought the country close to default is "perfectly conceivable". He told the BBC that he had not seen another situation in Washington where "compromise" seemed so far away. Mr Greenspan confessed to sympathies with the economic aims of the Tea Party, the faction that fought the government during debt ceiling talks. But the former central banker said the Party's tactics were "undemocratic"

Since its invention, the car has been a photographers' favourite. The sleek lines have often been an inspiration and that mythical promise of freedom has to some extent been created by the photos and cinematic images. But the car requires fuel, and it is that which forms the basis of a new book consisting of archive press images of petrol stations - or gas stations as they are known in the US, where most of the photos in David Campany's Gasoline originate

The brain uses sleep to wash away the waste toxins built up during a hard day's thinking, researchers have shown. The US team believe the "waste removal system" is one of the fundamental reasons for sleep.

Well, that'll do for today - that and buggerizing around with jAlbum all morning. I'll catch a bit of telly tonight, first time in 4 days! That's something I missed, to be honest, but only my regular programs like The Drum and the 7 o'clock news. Which reminds me, I woke at about 5am Sunday morning and thought about a couple of dawn shots of the river. So I had a pee instead, decided it was a bit too chilly outside, and went back to bed. There'll be plenty of time for that kinda nonsense in summer. Hehe. Gary

October 20, 2013. Late Sunday and I'm back in Taree. Got a dental appointment tomorrow. And now for today's major announcement. Da dah!

Yes, folks, the awning works! Naturally, I did it the wrong way and got all muddled up when I tried to retract the damn thing, so I checked the video with that German chick I posted the other day. There were a couple of little tricks the vid didn't show but I managed to figure them out for myself before resorting to yelling for help. Beforehand, I spent quite a while there practicing my skills at doing absolutely nothing - except drinking a beer. One passer by and his family asked if there were many people going past and I said, "Only when I sit out here." Fair dinkum, for a while there I thought the whole damn town was going past. It is, after all, a recreation area rather than a camping area, with lots of boaties. Quite a lot groups use the BBQ facilities - like a couple of families last night with the noisiest, most boistrous kids imagineable. One of them, a little girl about 5 or 6, wandered into the men's loo when I was in there. "Sorry, darling, you're in the wrong one." *Grin* "Wrong one, darling, you belong in the other one." *Grin*

Speaking of women, a middle aged blonde dressed like the chick in the Fiamma video, wearing leather pants, long leather high-heeled boots and a leather bikini top called at PJ's door to ask me where I was from. When I answered Taree, she said, "Oh, you're a local," and wandered off. What was that all about? I dunno but it reminded me of TX Greg's buxom visitor in the red swimsuit, only more scary. Later, as I sat sipping my beer under the awning, thinking how wonderful life was, she appeared outta the blue again but this time asked if I had any spare coffee. "Sorry, darling, all outta coffee." Sheesh. And this is shakedown #1?

Oh yes, and this morning a fairly large group had a breakfast barbie with lots of ho, ho, ho's and loud smal ltalk while I was busy rubbing the sleep from my eyes and wishing they'd all disappear.

I tellya what I miss - I miss my desk and typist chair. I kept getting backache in PJ working on the comp so I gotta figure out a better seating arrangement. Actually, the best place to sit is outside on the camp chair, so I might consider an outdoor office next time.

Last night, there was a full moon rising... a huge yellow disk slowly climbing the sky above the far end of the river in the east, with just enough scattered cloud to frame the moon. The perfect setting for a great shot! But who knows bugger all about manual settings for such shots? And whose tripod was in the van? And who hadn't checked the weather page for info about this event, and was totally unprepared? Yeah. So that's one thing I gotta do... learn manual settings and night photography for such occasions. That would have been such a fantastic shot! It's enough to make a grown man weep.

TX Greg wrote: That was a really a clever shot with your footseys all cozy and relaxed on PJ's brush guard. One awesome and very emotional pic with you actually finally out camped in PJ.

Yep, it's been a long time coming, and I appreciate you being emotional about it, Greg. Thanks.

So how does it feel sleeping on shocks? I always enjoyed that rockin motion :)

To be honest, once I hit the sack I'm history and sleep like a log, so I really don't notice the rocking. It's only during the day if I move around inside the van that I'm conscious of the motion. As to the camera settings, yeah... I'll get around to it. :) This pic was taken at sunset last night.

OR Richie wrote:... and a big FANTASTIC that you have gotten out there for the maiden sea-trials voyage !!  So VERY good, and don't forget that's it's been a bloody long time in coming !  Great scenes of everything, and I think the "buzz" could be catching !

I've got quite a few pics - some you've seen, some you ain't - which I'll put into an album tonight or tomorrow. I think I'll sleep well again tonight for some strange reason. I'm really quite sleepy. Gary

October 19, 2013. Today (and tonight) will be the hardest so you are over the worst - assuming you make it through the night that is - all good from here.

Onya Cobber.

Steve W

You're right, Steve. Last night was a bit of a cockup and I was dead tired. Slept for 12 hours and would have slept longer if the neighbors hadn't made such a bloody racket leaving in the morning. But today has been good - slowly acclimatizing myself to the no-schedule, no-stress, who-gives-a-stuff state of mind. Maybe I'll be better organized in future but at the mo I reckon this camp overnight and take off again next day is for the birds. Once I get settled I like to stay that way.

Good Morning Sunshine. Congrats on the first sleepover in the cabover. I bet as tired as you were that you slept great :) "Weird noises", I think they call that nature, hehe.

You DID park close to that vancamper. It's a campground Gary, not a shopping center parking lot, hahaha

Did you notice how nice PJ blends into the setting with the other campers :) 


Good thing I had the screw top container (an empty 5-liter plastic one). I needed it a couple of times during the night which was far preferable to finding my way in the dark over to the loos across the road. In fact, about the only shaking I've been doing on this shakedown so far has been in the loo (or bottle). Actually, there are many things to learn such as which cupboard is best for crockery, which is best for food, how not to park on an angle so things don't keep rolling off the table, etc. As to parking lots, you'll notice I parked on the opposite side to their sliding door and awning. Do I get points for that?

Ah! Black cockatoos... three of them just flew past... not a common sight! Noisy buggers, though. Oh, and speaking of neighbors, I met this one today.

They're commonly called a bush turkey but they're not really a turkey at all. They're actually related to T Rex and have been known to rip a man to shreds but this one sized me up and fortunately decided I was a liar.

G’day Mate,

So you got the mini-odyssey under way. Congratulations. Looks like roughing it in highly civilized environs to me. Where’s the sense of adventure?

Gas appliances can be a pother. I have a gas wall mounted heater used to compensate for chilly evenings … or more importantly for emergency heat when power is interrupted by storm or human folly. I keep the standing pilot lit because making it light after  period of disuse is trouble. The device requires service by a technician and involves pulling the thing apart to remove a mite-sized bit of dust or lint blocking the low pressure nozzle at the pilot. Cheaper to use unneeded gas than pay for service calls.

So keep us advised, you seasoned old drunk.



Adventure? Had enough of that last night trying to pee in the dark, and climbing over a camper full of things that should have been outside. There were times when I was having serious misgivings about the nomad lifestyle. There was also a bit of adventure when I arrived in town and called in to a bottle shop for a six-pack of Toohey's Extra Dry. There was a major barney across the road at the fruit market. One bloke had lost it altogether, throwing fists wildly at another bloke and screaming his head off. A girl/woman with him was also screaming and trying to get him to quit but to no avail. So that was my introduction to camping in Wingham. But as Steve said, the worst is over now and all seems well. I wish the wind would die down though... the river valley is channeling the wind directly towards this camp ground, rocking PJ. I had to close the hatch cos it was flapping about like a hooked mullet. Oh, and another thing... one of the last of the campers is packing up so I might be on my Pat Malone tonight. Spooky!

There are 2 guys (German or Danish) camped in a tent adjacent to the car with the doors open, so they might hang around tonight. There's a GN rule - never free camp near a town on a Friday or Saturday night. Yeah, right.

After walking the boardwalk for some distance, risking life and limb with bush turkeys lurking around every corner, I came across a sign saying the flying fox loop was closed during breeding season to protect the littlies. So, no pics of cute little furry critters. I saw them last night after sundown doing their daily migration thing but their numbers didn't blacken the sky or anything (which apparently happens occasionally when they're all syncronized). However, there were quite a few groups of 20+ over a period of about 15 minutes.

I took a few more pics and will again tomorrow, then I'll put them all together in an album. BTW, the council has provided a large shelter with tables and benches and electric BBQs across the road from there... something I haven't used and won't until I get something to chew with. Just before I go, there was one particular time today when I thought "this is the life". I sat on a camp chair under the dappled shade of a tree looking at the scenery and felt totally relaxed, as if nothing in the world really mattered. I think this shakedown will have taught me a few valuable lessons, mostly about being better organized, so that the next mini O will be an improvement. For one thing, I'll park closer to the action. And that's lesson #1. Don't unpack until you've checked a few things. Once you've unpacked, that's it, you're stuck for the duration. Gary

October 18, 2013. Showers clearing by early afternoon, says the forecast. So I'm waiting for the sun to shine before leaving on the shakedown. There was a bit of drama late yesterday afternoon. I tried the fridge without success, so the dirt or rust or whatever was blocking the burner hadn't shifted. Only one thing to do... unscrew the panel behind the fridge and check it out. Screws, screws and more screws. I tried lighting the burner from the rear as TX Greg once advised but that didn't work. So I used the can of compressed air to give the burner a good clean, then tried lighting again but this time from inside. With the flap open and the burner cover open it was hard to tell in the daylight if the burner was alight or not, so I checked from the rear and sure enough, there it was burning brightly. Soooooooo, reattached the cover with all the screws, placed 4 ice bricks in the fridge and left it to do its thing overnight. Did it work? I'll find out soon enough when I check it - once the rain stops. I'm not gonna load the camper in the rain either.

It occurred to me that there might be signal probs at Wingham Brush so if this page is not updated later today you'll know why. Bunnings is on the way there so I'll drop in and get those 15amp thingies. As to Peter the engineer's jobs, like changing the fridge panel into a hinged door, they'll have to wait a while cos the power bill arrived. Another $500+ exits my bank account. Bleh. I'll be glad when I'm rid of those. That one bill alone would buy a second AGM and 200W solar panel!

Thanks to TX Greg, I fixed the Waffle dates of the past few days. Too much stress lately. It'll be nice to be camped and organized and RELAXED.

BTW, those fires around NSW yesterday were horrendous, and the worst for several years with an estimated 200 homes destroyed. I watched the live reports last night after getting the fridge going.

FL Josh wrote: That link I sent you yesterday for Power Systems for Campers, I found comes from a website with lots of good camping information. Thanks, Josh. I'll check it out when I'm settled.

It was with some trepidation just now that I checked to see if the fridge was cold. That would have been the final straw if the flame had blown out overnight or whatever. But lo and behold, ladies and genitals, it's as cold as penguin's bum. Frost around the freezer compartment, and the ice bricks are still frozen. Once the gray clouds start to clear, I'll load up PJ with the necessaries and be off on my first ever mini O. Gotta have a fridge, mate. Every camper needs a fridge. And on the way to Wingham I'll stock it with a few beers to celebrate my accomplishment. Woohoo!

See you later in Wingham!

Yeah, right. Still waiting for the rain to pass. It's midday now and it could be another couple of hours. Tomorrow and Sunday will be sunny and warm. Meanwhile, I've stacked the stuff I need to take in the hall and made 2 x smoothies in advance. I've included a steamer saucepan as a food warmer - easier than assembling the stove top oven. So here I yam waiting for the rain to ease before I can load PJ. How b-b-b-boring.

Roite! Guess where I am? When I parked next to the peeps on the far left, I said, "Am I too close?" And they said, "Yeah, too close!" But they were only joking. Then I was telling them that this is my very first trip in the camper -  first shakedown - and that I was surprised that they assumed I was an old... my mind was searching for the word 'hand' but the bloke jumped in and said, "drunk!" Hehe

Anyway, it's 6pm now and I thought I'd take a few pics before dark just to let you know that I actually DID IT! I'm kinda numb, actually. Relaxed but numb. Maybe it was all that packing. It went on forever! So I decided not to bring the TV or the bike. It's only for a day or two. But I'll be glad when the packing is over and I start the real Odyssey and never have to pack anything agaain!

Still cloudy so I'll look forward to a sunny day tomorrow and lots of shutter bugging. I brought the porta potti 'just in case' but there are flush loos just across the road from where I'm parked. I'm kinda brain dead actually, so think I'll have an early night - if I can handle all the weird noises hehe. Gary

October 17, 2013. What??? No shakedown??? The fridge burner wouldn't stay alight when I tried to get it going early this morning. So I thought maybe there was air in the pipes. Ran the gas stove for about 10 minutes waiting for the orange flame tips to die but they didn't. Phoned the local gas company. "Sounds like a good flame. There are three types, all yellow, all blue, and blue with yellow tips. That's a good flame. Don't worry about those blue flames you see on TV ads, they're just made to look pretty." He gave it a name but I forget. Then he started talking about thermocouples and all that TX Greg stuff, and invited me around to the workshop to check it out. He got the fridge started first go from inside without checking the back. "The drive over probably did it. Could have been a bit of dirt blocking the burner. You going away? Have a nice trip."

Yes, I am going away, but not today. My timetable is up the spout because of the gas business, and also I promised Lindsay a ride to Wingham. Not enough time to get organized before then, and I'm not driving out there twice - at least not today. Launch date has been postponed till tomorrow. And this time I'll run the fridge all night tonight on gas so that it's nice and cold when I leave in the morning.

Yes, I could be camping at Wingham tonight but I'd be in a tizz, and it's not worth stressing about it. Besides, Murphy was at it again yesterday and sent the postman here while I was at the doc's getting the stitches out. So I have to go to the PO to pick up the parcel. While I'm out, I might as well get the 15amp extension lead as well.

FL Josh wrote in response to NC Art's question about a mathematical formula. It's a bit esoteric for inclusion here so I pasted it to the GN forum thread.

Josh also wrote: Here is a site with a wealth of information about powering campers.

Later afternoon now and I've just screwed together my Chinese clip-on 12V oscillating fan. Finding something to clip it onto that's within reach of a 12V outlet is gonna be the tricky bit.

Maybe it's just as well I postponed the shakedown to tomorrow. It's been a hottie today with a strong hot westerly causing fire problems in various areas of NSW, although around here seems to be okay for the time being. There's a storm predicted for tonight as well, clearing early tomorrow.

Last night, just as dark began to fall, I went down to PJ to rescue my mobile phone and saw lots of dark things flapping their large lazy wings silently in the moonlight. Bats! No doubt part of the large colony at Wingham Brush which I'll get to see when I'm there... hanging upside down in the trees during the day and making their way across the sky at sundown. I guess there are pretty lean pickings for them this year being so dry. Bats cause all kinds of problems such as noise and stink, as well as disease that affects horses and sometimes people, but they're an integral and necessary part of the eco system in terms of propagating our forests. No bats, no trees. Fruit growers have a special dislike for bats (flying floxes) but all they can legally do is move them on. Bats are a protected species. They did look pretty cool in the light of an almost full moon last night though... in a spooky kind of way. There was one very bright star in the sky at the time, presumably Venus.

Naturally, I was hoping to be posting pics of my first camp but it was not to be - not today anyway. But I did find these on a newsgroup this morning. This 1970 Buick was the style Holden adopted in Oz for the range which included my old HQ, Tough Titties and the bigger Statesman and Caprice, pretty fancy cars in their day and still a bloody good look if ya'ass me.

My neighbor in Glebe had a V8 Kingswood that same color. I used to see him washing it and it always looked like a million bucks. The V8 sounded lovely too, a small but throaty 4.2 that idled like a Swiss watch. Poor old  bloke hadn't been retired all that long when he conked out from cancer.

One of the latest GNs is a retired electrical contractor who's worked on some major installations, including solar. Handy bloke to have on the forum hehe. He advised me to get the 15amp extension lead as well as a 15amp adapter to attach to the domestic outlet. The adapter will come in handy if I'm ever invited to camp in someone's backyard (like Nancy's), and also for booting up PJ's fridge with electricity instead of gas for mini O's while I'm based in Taree. Ya learn something new everyday yeah?

NC Art sent this: On his death bed they asked him where he wanted to be buried and he said. "Surprise me." Remember Bob Hope? 

'I still chase women, but only downhill.'

'That's the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing.'

'You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.'

'I don't feel old. In fact, I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.'

'I ruined my hands in the ring. The referee kept stepping on them.'

'Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's called at my home, 'Passover'.'

'Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees.'

'I have performed for 12 presidents but entertained only six.'

'When I was born, the doctor said to my mother, Congratulations, you have an eight pound ham.'

'I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it.'

'Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got cold, mother threw on another brother.'

'That's how I learned to dance. Waiting for the bathroom.'

'I would not have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the stuff the audience threw at me.'

'I've done benefits for ALL religions. I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality.'


October 16, 2013. TX Greg wrote: Boy did you royally screw up that joke with incorrectly NOT posting the pic. How the hell did you get the file extension "png" at the end??? 

I posted the thumb instead of the main pic. This new mail system I use provided by my ISP rather than windows mail only shows the thumb. If I want to save the full size pic, I have left click the thumb to bring it up on screen and then save it. This time I forgot and right clicked to save which means all I saved was the thumb. And I thought, "What's this bloody Texan doing sending me a bloody thumb with a png extension?" So it wasn't a screw up, it was a senior moment. Anyway, all's well now, including the Just Joking forum on GN.

You didn't give a link so I Googled "Did she have 58008 918?" and found the GN post. You type the letters in a calculator turn the calculator around and read "BIG BOOBS"

Meanwhile, Dorian suggested the same thing, so I left a post for him this morning saying I got 'large melons'. Hehe.

Speaking of mathematics, NC Art wrote: That bull about math was disconcerting. I suddenly found myself trying to remember the quadratic equation--for determining a solution for two unknowns. Unfortunately, the thing produces two answers, one right … but not always … and one wrong. The wrong one is usually obvious to any dunce. And, my friends, so much for math as perfect certainty.

I think it goes something like this:  a square plus b square plus or minus the square of 2 ab over c = ? Look it up or ask a GN for any correction needed. It has been 65 years since I flunked that test. 

I've posted the question on the GN forum so you can click on this link to see what the various responses are. 

Art also forwarded a piece of interesting American car history: 

Hours after Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Secret Service found themselves in a bind. President Franklin D Roosevelt was to give his infamy speech to Congress the next day, and although the trip from the White House to Capitol Hill was short, agents weren't sure how to transport him safely.

The White House did already have a specially built limousine for the president that he regularly used, it wasn't bulletproof, and the Secret Service realized this could be a major problem now that the country was at war. FDR's speech was to take place at noon December 8th, and time was running out. They had to procure an armored car, and fast.

There was one slight problem. US government rules at the time restricted the purchase of any vehicle that cost more than $750 ($10,455 in today's dollars). It was pretty obvious that they weren't going to get an armored car that cheap, and certainly not in less than a day. One Secret Service agent was a quick thinker. The federal government did already have in its possession a car that just might fit the bill: Al Capone's, which had been sitting in a Treasury Department parking lot ever since it had been seized from the infamous mobster during the IRS' tax evasion suit years earlier.

Capone's car was a sight to behold. It had been painted black and green so as to look identical to Chicago's police cars at the time. It also had a specially installed siren and flashing lights hidden behind the grille, along with a police scanner radio. To top it off, the gangster's 1928 Cadillac 341A Town Sedan had 3,000 pounds of armor and inch-thick bulletproof windows. Mechanics are said to have cleaned and checked each feature of the Caddy well into the night of December 7th, to make sure that it would run properly the next day for the Commander in Chief.

"I hope Mr. Capone won't mind," FDR said when a reporter told him where the car came from.

FL Josh also worked out the 58008 918 thingy, and sent this: Here's a photo gallery of salvage yard pictures you might find interesting from the aspect of photographic technique.  Other than that, it gets a bit tedious.

And no, 6 is not a variable!!! I'll have to start calling him LW Josh (last word).

After the irrigation this morning, Nancy wished me well on my first shakedown and then suggested I park PJ in her yard at Forster on my next trip. Forster is down the coast about half an hour from here and is a very nice beachy touristy spot. How about that for a friendly dentist? She reckons when the treatment is finally over I'll suffer Nancy withdrawals.

Home from the doc's and getting the stitches removed, but the report says the cancer has reached the periphery of the incision so he wants to see me again in a month to decide what needs to be done (if anything). Bleh.

From the Beeb: Ratings agency Fitch has put the US AAA credit rating under review for a downgrade as the deadline to raise the US borrowing limit draws closer. The move comes after Democrats rejected a plan by the Republican-led House of Representatives as an attempt to appease a small group of conservatives. Hours later, House Republicans revised their proposal and planned to put it to a vote, but even that was called off. The US must raise its $16.7tn (£10.5tn) debt limit by Thursday or risk default

The funeral service for Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke in Italy has been called off amid angry protests. More than 500 people in the city of Albano Laziale shouted "murderer" and "executioner", and clashed with Nazi sympathisers, as his coffin passed. The former German SS officer, who was jailed for life in 1998 over the killing of more than 300 civilians, died under house arrest last week. His death led to fierce debate over what to do with his body.

Been fiddling around with PJ in readiness for history in the making. Young Keiran walked past and said g'day on his way down to the river for spot of fishing. I had my back to him and when I turned around, fair dinkum, I thought I was seeing his older bro Josh from several years ago. Keiran is becoming more Aboriginal looking as he ages. He's a very friendly boy. He could have walked past without saying anything, since I was busy rummaging around in one of PJ's storage bins, but he took the time to say g'day and wave.

Meanwhile, I tried the sink tap again. Lots off huffing and puffing but no water. So I used my new hose to fill the tank and learn a thing or two about kinks (don't say it) and rolling it up again so it fits neatly into the bin. Why are hoses so damn argumentative? Anyway, more huffing and puffing from the 12v pump which eventually sucked up enough water to fill the hose leading to the tap and deliver the goods.

I tried to plug the house power into PJ using a regular extension cord but the power inlet wouldn't accept the extension plug. The third pin is a slightly different shape. I checked the old one that Andrew replaced and it's the same, so it looks like I need a different kind of extension lead. I've left a question about that on the GN techies forum. Prolly something to do with amps.

I'm freezing 4 ice bricks overnight and I'll use them to help start the fridge early tomorrow morning. Lindsay needs to be at Wingham tomorrow at 1pm ish so I told him I'd give him a lift. That gives me the morning to get organized. This packing and unpacking business gives me the horrors so I'll be glad when I'm on the road permanently. First things first, though. Am I excited? No. Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet.

TX Greg wrote again after he'd noticed I'd fixed the 710 pic, and after blaming Bill for all the problems (instead of me hehe) he left us with this: I just came up with a stupid Bill joke...

Why is it computers can never get married???

Because the all-mighty creator Bill made sure that there aren't two that are compatible.

Warned you it was a stupid joke, HAHAHA


October 15, 2013. Quite a good response from GNs who enjoyed the colorful birds slide show I put together yesterday. I hadn't realized there were so many enthusiastic bird watchers on the forum. Noice one, Art. Art also sent a bunch of historic photos which I'll use to make an album. He sent a collection of historic photos once before but these are different. I'll make the new one later.

An elderly couple was attending a church service. About halfway through she leans over and says to her husband. "I just let out a silent fart. What do you think I should do?"

He replies, "Put a new battery in your hearing aid."

Steve W wrote: You may want to consider getting the "bike rack" number plate as I'm not sure yours will comply with the bike on the back.
I was once pulled over for just that and spent 20 minutes with highway patrol officer discussing the distance and the angle that the plate must be visible from behind. We were measuring by pacing and then marking distances and arguing over what was 30 degrees of angle. I eventually wore him down when I started using trigonometry and similar bullshit and he figured it was easier just to let me go! That is a point, I have found a few times that if you talk civilly to the police they can often come around to seeing your point - despite what many people say to the contrary, most are human and reasonable........and if all else fails, try trigonometry!!

Yeah, right. Trigonometry. How did you know I'm an absolute whizz at trig? I had a license plate on the rack for Tough Titties but I sold TT back in 2009. I think the plate cost $25.

TX Greg wrote: Before you leave on your shakedown be sure to check your engine 710 thingy :)

Wat Dat u say...?

Have you heard the one about the blonde that walked into the automotive shop...

A blonde came in and asked for a seven-hundred-ten thingy. We all looked at each other and another customer asked, "What in the world is a seven-hundred-ten?"

She replied, "You know, the part that's right in the middle of the engine, I have lost the one I had and need a new one." She explained that she did not know what it does, but this piece had always been there and she thought she should have it replaced.

He gave her a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to draw what it looked like. She drew a circle and in the middle of it wrote 710.

Still confused, he then took her over to another car which had its hood up and asked "is there a 710 piece on this car?"

She pointed and said, "Of course, its right there..."

I was thinking about heating stuff (without a micro). There's one glass-lidded saucepan in PJ but I'm not keen on a whole stack of pots and pans. So I rummaged around in the kitchen (in the house) and saw a bunch of metal bowls with flat bottoms in various sizes that fit inside each other. I'd forgotten about those! I've had them for years! They have pliable plastic lids for storage but can also be used for heating foods. Yeah? No handles so I'll get a pair of mini tongs or a clip-on handle if I can find one. Prob solved. It's amazing what you find in kitchen cupboards.

My cooking routine (such as it is) will need to change during mini camps while I'm still on this toothless diet. No electrical appliances. But that's okay. I'll figure something out.

More prezzies! Just back from shopping. Spotted a garden hose for $8 with fittings. Seems like a softer material than normal and it rolls up pretty tight. I also bought a 1 liter vacuum flask for $11, perfect to hold 2 x pre-made smoothies. I already have 2 x 600ml flasks but I can use those for something else, like hot water first thing in the morning to make tea. And I bought 2 tubes of condensed milk and a 1 liter tub of double thick custard - Nancy's orders. Hehe.

Oh, I didn't find a clip on handle for the bowls, and I didn't like the tongs. Sooooo, I thought about it and decided a pair of pliers might do the trick. I have a few in my tool drawer including a pair that is a cross between pliers and an adjustable wrench with an angled head (like the one in the center of this pic but with flat jaws). I tried it out with the bowls and it works a treat. So there ya go... right under my nose all the time. 

From the Beeb: US Senate leaders have expressed optimism after a flurry of negotiations on raising the federal debt ceiling to avert a potentially disastrous default. Following talks with his Republican counterpart, the Senate's top Democrat spoke of "tremendous progress". They were also nearing a deal to end a partial government shutdown, now in its third week, congressional sources said. Masochists.

A Malaysian court has ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah to refer to God, even in their own faiths, overturning a 2009 lower court ruling. The appeals court said the term Allah must be exclusive to Islam or it could cause public disorder. People of all faiths use the word Allah in Malay to refer to their Gods. OMA doesn't look right. I'll stick to OMG.

I wuz talking about mathematics the other day. Here's a little mathematical gem from a GN.

As to Greg's Seven Ten thingy, one GN wants to know Did she have 58008 918? Anyone know what he's talking about?

Well, time to vanish for another day. Irrigation and stitches out tomorrow, then prepare for the first shakedown. How exciting! This will be history in the making, dear Breth! Gary

October 14, 2013. Back from another irrigation and more badgering from the girls to put on weight. They suggested sucking on a tube of condensed milk, silly as it sounds. But why not? A sort of snacky thing in between meals. In any case, the "half a millimeter at a time" treatment seems to be working, according to Nancy. Progress, albeit  s l o w l y.

Ford won the Bathurst 1000 yesterday, then followed 5 Holdens. The winning margin was about half a second after 1000kms. In the top ten placings were 3 Fords and 7 Holdens. Hehe. But winners are grinners, and winning is what it's all about. A Mercedes-Benz was 14th, three Nissans at 18th, 19th and 25th, and another two Mercedes at 20th and 26th.

Meanwhile, strong winds battered much of NSW and bushfires were in many places, including just south of Newcastle where 6 homes were destroyed. A grass fire in a car park in Sydney, possibly started by a cigarette or hot exhaust, destroyed 47 parked cars. The wind was pretty wild up here too but I haven't heard any reports of damage. Today has gone the other way - no wind and mild temps.

It's all happening, folks. Andrew phoned this morning and will be here soon to loosen the tow ball, and also to take a peek at the water pump. Isn't that exciting? Speaking of exciting, check out this post by a GN about what it means to be a capitalist or socialist et al.

And this is what Billeeeeeee wrote in response to a newbie's post on the forum who's all set to rock and roll with the new rig: Howdyeeeee DD, might see you out here in the Nutty Nomad land, very easy to tell Nutty Nomads,!! all very excited,  like,,, Marj   Yoeleven,  Doug-wwee,  and may I tentatively give one more name here,,, Gary Kelly,  !!Once Gary trims the Hair in his ears, and nose , he will be aerodynamically  designed , and fit right into the Nomad life style.........soooooo see you  in the play ground,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,  !!Remember,!! we are not guaranteed tomorrow , soooooo enjoy !!Now........  Billeeeeeee.......

My mother warned me about mixing with the Billeeeeeees of this world ya know.

Andrew discovered that the pump switch is intermittently faulty, perhaps through having not been used for ages or whatever. But after a bit of testing and fiddling, the switch worked consistently. However, he attached an extra toggle switch on the wires leading to the tap. The extra switch is hidden in the cupboard below the fridge. So if/when the tap switch plays up again, all I have to do is pull the toggle switch and the water will flow. It's a back up, and cheaper than a new tap switch. Meanwhile, the tap switch may never have a problem again. I asked him how much for the job and he said it's a freebie. I insisted on paying something so he said $20. I gave him $30.

AND, I tried the rear view camera with the bike sitting on the rack. No worries! So everything is hunky dory.

Last week, NC Art sent a series of pics depicting a variety of colored birds in all their feathered glory. It was called God's Paintbrush but I changed it to Nature's Paintbrush cos I'm nasty. Anyway, now that I have the latest version of jAlbum, I put the photos together to make a slide show.

From the Beeb: On the beat with New York's crime photographer: For at least one group of hardened professionals in New York City, near record-low crime figures are distinctly bad for business. At almost every major crime scene in the city, the press photographers trail right behind the police cars and ambulances - or even beat them there. Marc Hermann, now in his early 30s, worked as a staff crime photographer for the New York Daily News for years. He began wondering what it would be like to see how past crime scenes from New York's streets have changed. His Then and Now series went viral, and he took BBC News to some of his favourite locations. It is partly a tribute to the old-timers who captured the dramatic aftermath of organised crime in its hey-day, and an homage to the city's turbulent history

A gardener from Dorset has claimed a UK record for the heaviest pumpkin, following a national contest. A weigh-in at the Jubilee Sailing Trust Pumpkin Festival in Netley, near Southampton, found Mark Baggs's pumpkin weighed 1,520lb (689kg). Can you imagine a pumpkin weighing almost as much as PJ?

Well, today was rather fruitful - and the pump issue was sorted without too much drama. Thursday I plan to leave on the shakedown despite a shower predicted for late that day. It's all part of the rugged nomadic lifestyle, yeah? Hehe. But Friday and Satdee look good. Not sure how long I'll be able to camp at the council camp site but we'll see. And now it's telly time - and yes, the telly will be coming along as well. Gary

October 13, 2013. A forecast 36C today but it's only 18 at the mo and cloudy with possible thunderstorms. Oh well, que sera sera... 

TX Greg wrote: Oooooh Gary,

Remember Andrew only installed the ONE new independent power strip inside for use off the inverter. The red and black leads with the clips to the battery should only run direct to the back side input of the inverter. The water pump and faucet switch would be 12 volts.

The way you described the problem tho makes a tech want to pull their hair out, hehe. "So I attached the alligator clips to the house battery and whammo, the pump works."

To me that sounds as if the VERY second you connect the clips to the battery the pump comes on? And if you remove the clips the pump goes off. If SO then somehow the 12v for the pump is connected to those wires going to the input for the inverter.

BUT knowing YOU I'm thinking that you attached the clips and then went back inside and turned the switch again and it worked, right? Hence why you thought it worked off the inverter. So I'm guessing that it is possible that the switch could be going bad or maybe a bad/loose connection to the water pump, OR perhaps the operator??? hehe

Yes, I attached the clips, went back inside, tried the switch again and it worked. So as soon as I finish this coffee, I'll try again without attaching the clips. I'll also try the fans, etc. And what's with this knowing ME jazz? 

Back! This time it doesn't work either way, but I discovered something about one of the alligator cllips. The acid from the old battery ate away some of the metal on one side of the black clip, so I've learned to attach it on the good side. However, the pump fault lies with the switch or the wiring, and it could be the latter cos I noticed a pretty dodgy looking join in the wires leading from the tank box (where I presume the pump is housed) to the tap/faucet - an old join with tape wrapped loosely around it. So there's another job for Andrew when he arrives to loosen the tow ball. BTW, the fans and all the other stuff work okay. Sooooo, that's why shakedowns are called shakedowns.

NC Art commented on my piece about logic and religion yesterday: A preacher man told me it takes a leap of faith to bridge the gap between reason and belief. Ok maybe, but with my luck I’d miss the target and break both legs, I said. He was not amused.

I had a baptist minister tell me one time that I needed grace. So what's grace? An antidote to logic?

Art also sent a bunch of puppy dogs quoting profundity which I assembled into an album. I also upgraded jAlbum to the latest version, which is pretty flash, but it cost $40 to get the damn thing ad free! Oh well...

From the Beeb: Negotiations over how to end a political stalemate in Washington that has led to a partial government shutdown have shifted to the Senate. The Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate held direct talks for the first time in weeks, but there is little sign of any breakthrough, correspondents say. This has happened before. The system is broke. Fix it.

Lindsay amuses me when he keeps doing things the wrong way and stuffs up or makes life difficult for himself. He reasons that "I've always done it this way," so therefore that makes it right. I've heard Americans in defense of their country's system of government say, "Get used to it. This is the way we do things here." Hehe.

The little-told story of the massive WWII pet cull. At the beginning of World War II, a government pamphlet led to a massive cull of British pets. As many as 750,000 British pets were killed in just one week. This little-discussed moment of panic is explored in a new book.

FL Josh has a thing or two he would like to share with you about what I wrote yesterday in relation to religion and logic:

You commented, "To my mind, religion and logic are not on the same page. But that's me. I know there are scientists who are religious, and lots of clever people who are religious, so now I'm wondering if it's possible to be highly educated without being logical hehe." Your conclusion is based on your own personal belief that a person cannot be both logical and religious. Maybe those "highly educated people" picked up something on the road to becoming highly educated that allows them to see things you cannot, and logical people can also be religious.

Roite, so now wondering is a conclusion.

I have taught math from high school to college level and was amazed at your comment, "Take math, for example. You can't get any more logical than math. But math wasn't invented by mathematicians. Mathematicians or masters of calculus can learn the subject by rote and be expert in its application, but that's a bit like teaching a parrot to recite Shakespeare hehe." That is wrong in so many ways, it boggles the mind. First of all, mathematics wasn't invented, the many different disciplines of it were discovered, starting with the concept of counting, and expanding onward over many thousands of years. Those who studied mathematics were called mathematicians and since it was these people who developed new ways of working with numbers, if you are going to say math was invented, it was done so by mathematicians, as opposed to historians, horticulturists, cobblers, etc. And you imply another name for mathematicians is masters of calculus. Calculus is just one small area of math, and there are many, many other areas, like algebra, differential equations, plane and solid geometry, and so on.

That's roite. Math wasn't invented. That's what I said.

And you say one can learn math by rote and become an expert in its application, and that learning math is like teaching a parrot to recite Shakespeare. If Johnny takes Algebra and learns that X = 6, then according to your belief, all he has to do is commit it to memory by rote and he is set for life and anytime he comes across an equation with X in it, he knows X = 6 because he memorized that in school. That could not be further from the truth. The reason kids in school have trouble with math is because it is the subject they take that is farthest from being something learned by rote. Instead, it demands they learn concepts and tools and they use those to solve problems they have never seen before. History and Geography are subjects one can learn by rote, just memorize the facts and parrot them back on a test. If you learn in Geography that Canberra is the capital of Australia, and ten years later, someone asks you what is the capital of Australia, you parrot back to them, "Canberra."

Everyone knows that X and 6 are variables. Including me.

Math isn't a discipline you apply using logic, no more than a carpenter uses logic to build a cabinet. The carpenter uses the tools in his toolbox to build the cabinet and the person doing math uses the math tools in their head to solve the problem. If you need to drive 500 miles and you can average 50 mph, you can figure out how long it will take you to get there using the math formula rate x time = distance.

Furthermore, logic does not necessarily lead to truth. In ancient times, people thought the earth was flat, and because they could not know this for a fact with the knowledge they had on hand, they arrived at that conclusion using logic. Benjamin Franklin used logic to decide whether electrons flowed from positive to negative or negative to positive, and based on his conclusion, he developed all his electrical formulas. He got it exactly backwards, but his equations still worked. His equations were developed to match the results he was getting from his experiments but where used logic, he missed the boat.

Columbus used logic to figure out that he had found a shortcut to India, and he named the natives he found, Indians. He was wrong.

Lemme get this straight, Josh. I said logic leads to truth did I? Oh... short term memory problem. Sorry.

And then you say, "I'd love to see the results of a survey that measured a religious group's ability to reason logically and compare it to a group of logical thinkers' ability to accept religious belief." That paragraph is as inane as the one preceding it. In doesn't even make sense, but even if did, you couldn't obtain the information you seek from a survey. How would you select your samples as to "religious people" and "logical thinkers?" What in the world is a religious person? Einstein was a great thinker and when asked about religion, he would wisely dance around the subject because the fact was he wasn't impressed with organized religions, but he did believe in a higher power. Many of our greatest thinkers have ended up at the same place Einstein did. So is Einstein a "religious person?" Going with the plain meaning of the religious, one would probably have to say no, he wasn't a religious person yet he believed in a God.

And how do you select people who are logical thinkers? You would have to look into their history of decision making and see if they made sound decisions, decisions that were logically thought out, thought out with reason, and making use of all the information they needed to arrive at a decision that was supported by the information they used to arrive at it. It doesn't matter whether the decision was good or bad, only that his deductive reasoning was sound. If I am watching a parade with hundreds of others and we are all sitting on the sidewalk, and I stand up and find I can see better, logically if everyone stood up, everyone can see better. The logic is sound, the conclusion is flawed.

Why are you asking me these questions, Josh? I said I'd love to see the results of such a survey; nothing about putting one together myself. As to Einstein believing in "a higher power", me too. Nature. How do you know Einstein meant "a God" when he used the words "higher power"?

And what would a "logical thinker’s ability to accept religious belief" be? I don't even know what is saying. Most religious beliefs do seem logical. Assuming there is a loving God who controls things, if you love your neighbor as you love yourself, he will reward you. Would a "logical thinker," say that is not logical. Your belief that such cannot be logical is based on your belief that there is no God, that everything just occurred by happen chance. If you were living 1000 years ago, you could argue, "Would logical people believe what the round worlders believe?" First of all, you can not sail around the world because the world is flat, thus the idea that you can is not logical. And with your beliefs and knowledge, it truly is illogical, so to you, it really is not logical.

Um... yeah.

What would a "logical thinker" think of the fantasy we tell kids about Santa Clause? Well, it brings joy to billions of children around the world, and many of those children are in very poor families and the children know their parents cannot spare money to buy gifts, but on Christmas morning, they can enjoy the gifts they received from Santa, without feeling guilty about money the family needed for other things being spent on them. And it gives the parents a way to make great sacrifices for their children without making them feel guilty. Would a logical thinker decide that is a bad thing?

A logical thinker would say Santa makes kids believe in lotteries - something for nothing, and that Santa is a tool for parents to blackmail their kids into behaving themselves if they want to see goodies under the Christmas tree. Religion uses the same trick to keep their flocks in line.

What would a logical thinker think about all the good that organized religions do all around the world, the hungry people they feed and clothe and provide medical care for, all the comfort they bring to literally billions of people. Would a logical thinker think that is a good thing or a bad thing? Sure there are some fanatics, but look at all the people who are killed each year in automobile accidents, yet because the good we get from cars outweighs the bad, we put up with the bad. We try to reduce it, like we try to reduce the religious fanatics who do harm, but we don't cut off our nose to spite our face.

A logical thinker would think it's a good thing the poor, hungry and sick exist in order to give organized religion something worthwhile to do, which they otherwise wouldn't have.

Would a logical thinker take into consideration how organized religions motivate billions of people to lead better lives than they would otherwise, commit fewer crimes, be more generous to others, accept tough lives. You are not a religious man so it didn't bother you at all to not give Lindsey a ride to see his beloved Sue the other day when he asked, but if you had been a religious person, you would have been glad to. Was the world a better place with your decision? Would a logical thinker be able to see that?

A logical thinker would think that your opening sentence is hypothesizing. And you're dead wrong about Lindsay.

Oftentimes, a person’s religious beliefs will guide their behavior in a positive way when that person lacks the empathy to make decisions that are good for those around them, rather than just good for their selfish self. Would a logical thinker think that is a good thing or bad.

A logical thinker would think that's a rhetorical question.


Weeeeeell, it's a good thing my awning is not up or the camp furniture out cos it's been blowing a gale here this afternoon. Funny weather. But it looks pretty good through next week, and towards the end for the shakedown. If the water pump is not fixed in time that won't matter - there'll be water available at the camp site. What I'm most looking forward to most is spending a bit of time with the Nikon at sparrow's and again at sundown. Meanwhile, it's hooroo time. Gary

October 12, 2013. Jeez, these weekends come around pretty damn quickly. Nudja one already! And before the next one arrives, I'll be a seasoned gypsy - almost. NC Art says: Waiting to be entertained with an account of PJ’s first encounter with the nomadic life.

Art also commented on the vans slide show: About those great vans, the Ford Econoline was a bust. Underpowered, overhyped and guaranteed to disintegrate within three years. I bought one for local deliveries and it encouraged delivery drivers to punish it mercilessly just trying to get somewhere.

   But, the Mercedes-Benz is a dream. My son has one fitted out for work, carrying portable generators, compressors, and a full-bore paint shop. Diesel engine is economical, and it drives beautifully. One idiosyncrasy, when starting one must have patience because this over-engineered feature means it will not start until the computer checks out all systems for optimal efficiency. Do not use as getaway vehicle after bank robbery.

Hehe. I have to say the most impressive car I've ever owned was the Benz. A dime a dozen in Germany and the Middle East where they were used as taxis (the 4-pot, 200 series) but pretty flash over here at the time. Mine was previously owned by a German who worked at the German Embassy in Canberra. Now I drive a car previously owned by a plumber from Queensland.

A couple of GNs have invited me to spend a while at Greens Lake in Victoria. Bit far for me at the mo. But Greens is a fav spot for several nomads. Billeeeeeee is the group's unofficial spokesperson. He posted another of his pics on the forum this morning. I told him I'll print it so I can recognize him when I get there (one of these days).

Billeeeeeee reckons that pic was taken of him coming out of the cop shop after bailing John (another GN) who was arrested for continually mooning the barmaid at the pub hehe. Charming lot aren't they?

Bloody hot outside but I fiddled around with PJ anyway. My squishy hose lasted exactly 1 second. The pressure of the water blew the squishy hose out of the normal hose I had it attached to with double clamps. The rubber is too soft to grip. So, goodbye squishy hose. I'll get a regular one. Meanwhile, I used the watering can with spout to put about 15 liters of water into the tank, then I tested the pump. No workies. Oops! Lights work. Radio works. So I attached the alligator clips to the house battery and whammo, the pump works. I was gonna do some other stuff but it's too hot out there. 30C.

Hmmm, so does that mean the lights and radio work directly off the house battery, and the pump works off the inverter? I guess so.

I caught something on The Drum last night about whistleblowers, the Obama administration, and the recent publicity given to the US administration secretly spying on millions of individuals by sourcing private Mention was made of the making of the film Zero Dark Thirty, and how the US government shared secret information with the producers because it suited them. But when the sharing of secret information by unauthorized whistleblowers occurs, that's a different story. One commenter said it was disappointing that Obama won office on a promise of openness in government, transparency, and respect for the people. And then his admin turns around and spies on them in secret.

Being a weekend, The Drum hasn't posted last night's episode on line yet. But I did find this story on the same subject written in the Guardian by John Kirriakou, himself a victim of The Espionage Act. It makes pretty interesting reading.

Mention was also made last night of a Taliban spokesperson calling 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai an enemy of Islam. Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban last year but survived to become a celebrity, speaking out for education and freedom, particularly for girls. She's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A journalist on The Drum said the Taliban spokesperson (and others like him) was impossible to deal with because his reasoning is without logic. That got me to thinking about logic and religion. To my mind, religion and logic are not on the same page. But that's me. I know there are scientists who are religious, and lots of clever people who are religious, so now I'm wondering if it's possible to be highly educated without being logical hehe.

Take math, for example. You can't get any more logical than math. But math wasn't invented by mathematicians. Mathematicians or masters of calculus can learn the subject by rote and be expert in its application, but that's a bit like teaching a parrot to recite Shakespeare hehe.

I'd love to see the results of a survey that measured a religious group's ability to reason logically and compare it to a group of logical thinkers' ability to accept religious belief.

Anyway, it gets back to that Taliban spokesperson whose thought processes are determined by one thing, and one thing only - dogma.

The Beeb was a bit uneventful today, and nothing much else to do, so I thought I'd do a little D&M deliberating, yes? Passes the time. So does making a bolognaise, which I've just done, and it's now simmering  for later consumption. Did you read that article yesterday about consumers and manfucturing and assembly lines and 3D printing? That was pretty interesting too. The future is blowin' in the wind, folks. Gary

October 11, 2013. What a contrast! Heat wave one day, mild and cloudy the next. Stan the Lawn Man was here briefly yesterday to inspect the lawns (mine and Averil's) and said it was too dry to mow. We could do with some rain, that's for sure. Yeah, just when I'm plannng my first shakedown.

I read one GN's thread this morning. He's been a Nomad for 7 years but after 2 years of travel visited Darwin, got a job in the mines and stayed for 5 years. That's a bloody long camp! I guess you never know what's gonna happen 'out there'. Actually, I can't see myself moving camp after one or two days like some GNs do. I tend to get comfortable (and lazy) hehe. But all will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Andrew is one of those nuggety blokes who's as strong as an ox, so when he tightens a nut it's TIGHT. I can't loosen the nut on the tow bar so I called  and asked him to drop in next time he's in town. Great timing - he was in town all morning and just got home. Anyway, this morning I realized I tested the rear view cam with the bicycle rack but minus the bicycle. Duh. 

I've also been wondering about the Fiamma awning along the side of PJ. It's easy to set up by only one person as demonstrated in this video. I rather fancy the operator's uniform as well, and am tempted to invest in one. Actually, those awnings are quite expensive. PJ has about two grand's worth.

From the Beeb: Republicans in the US House of Representatives have met President Barack Obama amid renewed efforts to avert a looming debt crisis. Both sides described the 90-minute meeting as useful but said no decision was made. They agreed to keep talking. Republicans have offered the president a short-term debt limit increase to stave off default

Imagine a world without shops or factories. When you are in the middle of a torrent of change, innovation eclipsing innovation, it can be hard to know what is passing and what will last. But the BBC's Peter Day believes that, here, in 2013, we are witnessing a revolution as profound as the birth of printing 500 years ago.

Scott Carpenter, one of the original members of the Mercury 7 - Nasa's first group of astronauts - has died aged 88, his family has announced. In 1962 Mr Carpenter became the second American to orbit the earth, piloting the Aurora 7 spacecraft through three revolutions of the earth. After retiring in 1969 he took up oceanographic activities

Heart-shaped boxes: The 10 grooviest vans (slideshow).

Yep, vans are cool. Bluey was not suited to the Odyssey but was nonetheless a great car. But I think I've been converted to utes. Their versatility is wonderful. They have a car-like cab with all the comforts, a tray at the back for carrying all kinds of bulky items, the option of a detachable canopy to make it weatherproof, and you can park it anywhere. They're also rugged with a strong chassis. The only downside to owning a ute (or box trailer) is that you become everybody's best friend.

Meanwhile, I'm less than a week away from my first foray into the wild blue yonder with PJ (about 20 minutes up the road hehe). First meals using the kitchen, first sleep in the cabover, first time with camp furniture under the awning, first time for ages riding the bike, first time out in the bush by a river at sunrise and sunset... yeah, first time for a lotta things. First time using the comp outdoors. According to the forecast, the weather looks okay with maybe a shower or two later in the week. Next Wednesday is when the doc removes the stitches so I'll head off Thursday or Friday. Gotta be back Sunday 20th cos I have a dental appointment next morning.

So, dear Breth, after all these years of planning and talking and dreaming and wondering, I'll actually BE there DOING it. With a bit of luck, there'll be some other campers/overnighters there with some interesting stories. You can bet your life I'll be invited to share a meal. Sorry, no can do. Drat! What I'm mostly curious to know is will it live up to expectations? Not that my expectations are very specific. In fact, I'm not sure what to expect apart from the obvious. My only experience thus far is a few camping trips in the Kombi, but that wasn't as well set up as PJ. Prior to that, I spent 5 weeks camping at various places on the South Coast with a mate back in the mid 60s but that was in a tent. We had a pretty good time though, except he was big time into surfing and I was big time into getting sunburnt.

This will be the first time I've been camping on my own, which will give me more independence and freedom. I also have a purpose which involves the web site and my cameras. So we'll see how the mystery unfolds. Gary

October 10, 2013. Gonna be a hottie today with a top of 38C (100F) and it ain't even summer yet. Earlier, I received a package of something you wouldn't wanna sit on by accident... Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure. It's a liquid sealant used for mystery leaks - "finds and seals leaks, seals hairline cracks". Not needed at the mo but ya never know when it'll come in handy. Another one for the tool box.

TX Greg wrote: Don't forget to add to that check list to latch the fridge door. Not a fun sight to see everything in the fridge on the floor.

On arrival home after one of the earlier test flights, I found the fridge door wide open. Oops! So the door is now permanently secured by a long narrow bolt that slips in and out of the hole in the top corner of the door.

One GN wrote this morning that he was camped at a spot with no public loo. He's got a porta potti but has never used it in 2 years of travelling so he decided to camp overnight and move on the next day rather than christen the PP. Then another GN wrote that there were loos and hot showers just half a K up the road from there, an easy walk. But I thought it was interesting that the porta potti was still a virgin even after 2 years on the road.

I was thinking about gray water disposal for camp sites that only allow "self contained" vehicles. A bucket was the first thing that came to mind but then I thought about an empty 5 liter container (such as those used for radiator fluid) with a narrow neck and screw top. Pop the drainage hose into the top and no worries. Easy to carry somewhere to dispose of the contents. There's only cooking and washing to do - no shower. Instant self contained!

From the Beeb: The US is suspending a large part of the $1.3bn (£810m) in aid it gives to Egypt's military. The delivery of large-scale military systems as well as cash assistance to the Egyptian government would be withheld, said the state department. It said "credible progress" must be made towards free and fair elections. Yeah, and besides, we're broke.

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has told the BBC he is open to "serious talks" with the government but says he has not yet been approached. In a rare interview, he denied carrying out recent deadly attacks in public places but said he would continue to target "America and its friends". How encouraging. We're off to a great start then.

The discovery of the first chemical to prevent the death of brain tissue in a neurodegenerative disease has been hailed as an exciting and historic moment in medical research. More work is needed to develop a drug that could be taken by patients. But scientists say a resulting medicine could treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and other diseases.

If religious and/or ideological fanatics like the Taliban believe in one god, one truth and one direction for all, then obviously democracy and freedom of thought and expression are not options. Live and let live is not on their agenda. So what's the point of talks aimed at compromise? There can be no compromise unless there's respect on both sides. Fanatics have no respect for anyone other those who share their belief. It's all a bit of a worry, isn't it.

I used to wonder why some countries/cultures choose to declare America and its "friends" as their natural enemy even though all America and its friends want to do is live peacefully together in a shared world. If only it were that simple. It's what America and its friends stand for - freedom, and the defense of freedom - that automatically classifies them in the eyes of fanatics as infidels; enemies of Islam, or in North Korea's case, enemies of autocracy or totalitarianism. So that's the way it is sometimes - you don't need to go out of your way to attract an enemy; you don't need to provoke anyone; you just need to be minding your own business when some fool decides he doesn't like you.

Right on our doorstep is the democratic Republic of Indonesia, with its population of about 250m people making it the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is mainly Islam but also Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and whatever else. The country has its share of fanatical ratbags but generally everyone gets along just fine, and the country has a good relationship with Australia. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country, which this year hosted APEC. So obviously Islam itself doesn't have a problem with tolerance and peaceful coexistence, it's just those irritating, half wit fanatics.

Back in 1930 in the US, the automobile industry was rapidly approaching the end of one era and about to launch itself into a decade of major change both in design and construction methods. Independent front coil suspension, "knee-action" shock absorbers, hydraulic brakes and sophisticated aerodynamics were just a few of the innovations of the 1930s. But, in terms of sheer cuteness and simplicity, it's pretty hard to go past grandpa's old buggy.

Isn't she sweet? I think it's adorable. Nice job of widening the wheels, too, without compromising authenticity. Yep, that was the end of an era. These days, you can barely tell the difference between models ten years apart, but the difference between that 1930 Ford and its 1940 brother was like chalk and cheese.

Do you have a GPS like this one?

Well, time to flop in the chair and cool off. Way too hot today to do anything energetic. I've solved the problem of feeling guilty about being lazy by pretending I'm on holiday hehe. Gary

October 9, 2013. Off to the doc's shortly to have a skin cancer on my neck removed. Then a week not being able to shower properly until the stitches are removed and then? Shakedown #1 time!

I'll take the Nikon with me to the doc's cos I wanna check out the jacaranda trees on the other side of the river. They should be in peak bloom. There's a number of them that look pretty stunning when they're in flower. I remember well the jacaranda next door when I was a kid. We had a big camphor laurel in our yard that I loved to climb. Kids and trees have a special relationship.

NC Art contributed this: Seniors and Computers...

As we Silver Surfers know, sometimes we have trouble with our computers. I had a problem yesterday, so I called Eric, the 11 year old next door, whose bedroom looks like Mission Control and asked him to come over. Eric clicked a couple of  buttons and solved the problem.

As he was walking away, I  called after him, 'So, what was wrong?' He replied, 'It was an ID  ten T error.'

I didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired, 'An, ID ten T error?  What's that? In case I need to fix it again.'

Eric grinned...'Haven't you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?' 'No,' I replied.

'Write it down,' he said,  'and I think you'll figure it out.' So I wrote  down:


I used to like Eric, the little shithead.

And here's one from the GN forum: The Giraffe Test.

Bsck from being stabbed and incised. The doc had a student there assisting which wasn't a worry. I've been stitched up by lots of students in my time. But it was when David was saying, "No, no, no, no, no, not like that. Pull it out," that I became curious about what was going on hehe. And it happened a couple of times, so god knows how many punctures there are. I also had a couple more cancers burnt off.

And the jacarandas? It's been a warm winter and hot spring so they flowered early and are now shedding the flowers in favor of foliage. Oh well... Here's a pic of a jacaranda in full bloom I took a couple of years ago.

From the Beeb: US President Obama has said he is willing to hold budget talks with Republicans, but not until they agree to lift "threats" against the economy. Republicans "don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs,'' Mr Obama said, by demanding concessions in policy before reopening government. Meanwhile, the world waits with some anxiety.

The parents of four boys who were found in a filthy Denver home suffering from malnourishment and only able to talk in grunts are facing charges of abuse. The sons of Wayne Sperling, 66, and Lorinda Bailey, 35, were found amid cat faeces and fly swarms, officials said. The pair did not enter pleas to multiple charges of felony child abuse at their first court appearance.

Two scientists have won the Nobel prize in physics for their work on the theory of the Higgs boson. Peter Higgs, from the UK, and Francois Englert from Belgium, share the prize. In the 1960s, they were among several physicists who proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic building blocks of the Universe have mass. What was I doing in the 60s? I don't think you wanna know.

I suppose I better draw up a list of what to take on my first shakedown. This is all new to me ya know. When I think of packing I think of Wingnut's mother "helping" him prepare for the hiking trip hehe. Half of what she packed - including PJs - were tossed out. Hmmm. PJs? I just realized that my motorhome is called Pajamas. Anyway, I need a list.

When I'm permanently on the road, of course, I won't need a list. Everything I own will already be on board. But I will need a check list to make sure everything is A OK before I leave camp - hatch, tie downs, awnings, gas off, windows shut, etc. It'll be in the cab next to the ignition.

One GN today asked about a bicycle cover and someone said they use a BBQ cover. I must check it out. A ground sheet would be waaaaay too big.

Bill, the bloke with a similar rig to mine has taken a month off and is travelling south from far north Queensland. Yesterday, he caught a few mud crabs...

Not a very appetizing looking chap but it does improve after 15 minutes in boiling water. I'm not a crab expert but I hear that mud crabs are a highly prized delicacy.

I think Bill is fishing somewhere at the mo. He runs a fishing charter business on Magnetic Island (where he lives). He says he's not only a fisherman but smells like one. You can see he has his name on his coffee mug hehe - in case of theft.

Anyway, it's time again for me to scoot after another lazy day - albeit one that involved a bit of surgery. The medicos call it a 'procedure'. Gary

October 8, 2013. Rain! About five minutes worth. But I haven't seen that stuff for ages! And speaking of water, I just asked GNs on the forum about water filters.

TX Greg wrote: Yes indeed the olive oil or even vegetable oil spray is a excellent idea as it would also help coat the rubber seal on the valve. You gotta keep your rubber swollen. Nothing worst than a dried out cracked rubber, hahaha

If you were in class in Oz and asked the teacher for a rubber, she'd give you an eraser.

BTW> It is also good to use "septic tank safe" toilet paper, will break down easy and help not clog.

According to the GNs, if the porta potti sits in the same spot for a while the paper forms a pyramid shape hehe. Good idea to give the potti an occasional shake - a gentle shake, that is. Just think, people who live in normal houses are missing out on all this cool fun.

Nancy gave me another irrigation this morning, and then picked away at the dead exposed bone. I guess she's trying to get the bone and gum to meet half way. She said the gap between the gum and bone has closed by 2mm since this procedure started earlier this year. Doesn't sound a lot but it is, and she's happy with the progress. However, she wants to speed it up a bit so I'll now be getting two treatments a week, Mondays and Wednesdays.

Nap #2 already and it's only mid afternoon. I'm so incredibly relaxed lately I could nod off for a week. It occurred to me this morning that a good part of the reason is that Sue's not here. She's at Wingham hospital in respite. Lindsay bussed it out there this morning. So without Sue here, there are no dramas, no falls, no tears, no tantrums, no anxiety about what she might get up to when Lindsay's out shopping or whatever. Even Lindsay is well behaved. It's one against one now, not two against one.

From the Beeb: Hard-line conservatives see victory in debt limit standoff. A faction of the Republican Party believes it cannot lose the battle over raising the US government's borrowing limit - either they dismantle the Democrats' healthcare reform, or the country has to live within its means for a while. But will the rest of the party stick with them?

US releases $100 banknote with new security features. The US Federal Reserve has issued a new hi-tech $100 banknote comprising several new security features. It includes a blue 3D security ribbon and a bell and inkwell logo that authorities say are particularly difficult to replicate.

Pentagon-funded Atlas robot refuses to be knocked over. Meet Atlas, a humanoid robot capable of crossing rough terrain and maintaining its balance on one leg even when hit from the side. And WildCat, the four-legged robot that can gallop untethered at up to 16mph (26km/h).

Have you seen TV footage of that Wildcat? Most amazing to see a bunch of nuts and bolts trotting around on all fours like a pet pooch.

Thunder! Not all that much and probably won't last long, but it woke sleeping beauty hehe and sent him to the loo. OR Richie has often remarked on how I won't know myself when I eventually depart permanently on the Odyssey and leave L&S behind for good. I hadn't really thought about that aspect all that much but now that Sue's in respite, and this house is quiet and calm, I'm finally realizing what a bundle of frazzled nerves I've been for the past 12 years. No wonder I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Lindsay just mentioned that Sue might not return to this house, so I asked if that was the word from the hospital. "No, it's just the way she is. She's not the same girl. She's a different person. She'll probably go straight into a nursing home." When I spoke to our GP a few weeks ago, he let it slip that Sue might not be back, mainly because of Lindsay's limited ability to care for her. I didn't share that info with Lindsay. Better to let him hear it from the proper sources when the time comes.

So it could be that I'm not the one who leaves them. It might be the other way around.

Well, a shorty I'm afraid... couldn't even find any camping piccies on the GN forum to pinch. Catch you tomorrow. Gary

October 7, 2013. FL Josh wrote Unanswered Question: You commented about when Averil is "on the phone to some insufferably boring person."  How do you know the person Averil is talking with is "insufferably boring," 

I'm a good guesser? Psychic? On the other hand, it could be that when Averil says "Hello, Fred", I kinda know instinctively that she's talking to Fred. In any case, Josh, I'm just one of those cynical types who thinks everyone is insufferably boring until proven otherwise. I'm afraid I can't suffer smalltalk unless it's my own. Kinda like farts.

On the subjects of fridges and nappy wash, TX Greg writes: Yeah your driveway should be level enough to run the fridge. Remember the day the guy dropped off PJ and parked in the street... That would be too much off level. If you ever have to park somewhere like that for more than 30 minutes, then turn off the fridge.

Nappy Wash, hehe, reminded me of Cody and Steve using the word "nappy" for a tantrum.

Yes, I was rather fond of that expression too hehe. In Oz, if someone throws a tantrum, we say he "spat the dummy". Dummy = pacifier. However, GNs who recommend nappy wash (powder) stress that it needs to be home brand because the cheaper home brand doesn't use harmful chemicals. Here's a paste from a GN thread: Just stick to the Homebrands from Coles, Woolies, Aldi or Reject shop, these are only sodium percarbonate usually states on label 34%. The branded products also have sodium percarbonate but also seem to have other additions which for some reason don't seem to work as well in toilets. If you are looking for more info just google, sodium percarbonate there is a wealth of information. I just throw capful or two into the porta potti toss in a bit of water and give it a shake, if it starts to get on the nose just toss a bit more in, works for us, and my job of emptying is so much easier, rarely any smell.
Well my two bobs worth. We use two caps of Woolies Home Brand Nappy San. Dissolve two caps in a liter of warm water in a bucket, and pour into the holding tank. Before putting the contents in the tank, however, we put a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid, and then add a decent hit of eucalyptus spray. End result no smell, and no mould within the tank.

I would check the Nappy Wash to see if it contains chlorine bleach. My worry would be the rubber gasket seals in the porta potty are not chlorine resistant. That plus the fact that laundry detergents brakes down oils, the rubber seals might not get the proper lubrication to keep them soft and swollen for a tight working seal. If you were only using this potty a couple times a year, no biggie, but 365 days a year could be a problem. Here's an eco friendly chemical...

How did you come up with "algae" growing in the porta potty? That's a new one on me. I thought algae needed sunlight or even indirect sunlight like in a home fish aquarium. I never have seen algae growing in a porta potty or regular RV holding tanks. Now I have seen when people didn't use some type of proper chemicals, mold and mildew and even maggots!!! Those little buggers would love to grow on the top side of the tank by the seal opening. 

Ah, yes, algae. Well, I call it algae - sludge that apparently accumulates in the loo water tank according to some GNs. Mold? Anyway, whatever it is, they say a capful of nappy wash once every few weeks in the water tank keeps it nice and clean. I remember someone saying a spray of olive oil in the bowl stops "stuff" sticking hehe. Sounds like a good idea. I expect to be using public loos most of the time but there are some camp sites designated for "self-contained vehicles" only.

BTW, there was a doco on telly last night about Kakadu and the park rangers who look after the environment to keep it free (relatively) of feral animals and introduced flora. Other rangers police poachers (commercial fishing), while others keep tourist areas free of salt water crocs. They trapped one 12 footer last night in an area where there was insufficient natural prey to satisfy such a large animal, meaning it would target humans, so they shot it. The meat is given to local Aborigines who have traditionally eaten croc, and the beast is gutted to inspect the contents of its stomach. The smell of the digesting food is so putrid that one of the rangers became physically ill. Ew! They shoot feral pics too and say they make good eating. You won't be seeing me or PJ out in that kinda country hehe. I'll stick to the safer areas thank you very much. Besides, PJ and mud don't mix.

From the Beeb: Libya's prime minister has called on Washington to explain a special forces raid on its territory, one of two by US commandos in Africa on Saturday. Ali Zeidan's office said he had asked for clarification and stressed Libya was "keen on prosecuting any Libyan citizen inside Libya". The raid captured al-Qaeda leader Anas al-Liby, who the US says is "currently lawfully detained outside of Libya".

In pictures: Star Wars art The archives of Lucasfilm contain many treasures for film buffs, among them the concept art that shaped the look of the Star Wars universe in the original 1977 film and those that followed

If you're interested in the World Solar Challenge (solar powered vehicles travelling from Darwin to Adelaide down the center of Australia) you can follow the action here on their website.

Back from a little shopping. I parallel park outside the mall now, and as I sat in the cab ready to return home I waited for five minutes, just watching people going about their business and trying to think like I would on the Odyssey - no particular place to go, no rush, plenty of time to observe my surroundings, no routine, totally relaxed. Yes, it felt pretty good. In fact, I can't remember ever feeling like that in "normal" life - completely free of any kind of pressure no matter how slight. It's almost like the state of mind you achieve during meditation when all your problems, anxieties and troubles dissolve into nothingness.

Some GNs can't let go of certain habits like socializing on a regular basis, so they organize meets or travel in convoy or whatever. Not this kid. I wanna be free to do as I choose when I choose, or to do absolutely zip if I so choose. Meeting peeps will be a matter of chance. I suppose some things will be planned, like certain events I want to attend, or seasons I want to avoid. Or crowds. Other than that, I'll be a white haired tumble weed.

Next job on PJ (no rush) will be the under tray tool boxes, grab handle, hinged flap to access the back of the fridge, and awning protector, all done at Peter's engineering workshop. That'll happen about mid November. I'm thinking early next year I'll get the windows repaired at the caravan repair place in Nabiac, about 15 minutes south on the highway. Again, no rush. Whether or not I decide to install a bigger solar panel to replace the existing panel will depend on what I discover about my power needs on my shakedowns. So that's a maybe I can think about somewhere down the track.

Meanwhile, all is cool. Gary

October 6, 2013. FL Josh wrote: You commented about when Averil is "on the phone to some insufferably boring person."  How do you know the person Averil is talking with is "insufferably boring," and to whom, Averil or you?

Me. Averil is far more tolerant than I hehe. I'm bitter and twisted as well as cynical and just plain nasty.

You also mentioned about putting nappy (diaper) wash powder in your water tank.  Does your portable toilet have a water tank or are you talking about putting a diaper wash in the tank that holds your drinking? When I was growing up, we had a boat that had a 400-gallon water tank and I don't remember us ever putting anything in it other than water when we would tie up for the night at a marina.

Yes, I meant the porta potti water tank, not the house water tank, Josh. I would never put wash powder in there. However you can buy "purifyer" tablets that kill algae or soften hard water. Some people only use bottled water for drinking but that can be expensive, especially in outback places. Best to stock up with town water whenever you can, and use bore, river or damn water, etc, for washing, cleaning and non-cooking purposes. 

Speaking of imbibing, on Land Line last night there was the story of scotch whisky made in Tasmania. It's taken the Scots centuries to perfect their wee drop but the Tasmanians have done it in less than 25 years, regularly awarded for being in the top 5% internationally. It all started when a Tasmanian bloke was chatting with a friend over a dram or two and began wondering why scotch wasn't made in the Apple Isle. It grew barley, made beer and wine, had the perfect climate and best quality water. So he made it his business to set up a distillery and produced his first barrel in 1992. Since then the industry has gone from strength to strength and now produces hundreds of thousands of liters every year. The process uses the old hands on method - no modern machinery. Even the barley is milled by an ancient mill driven by an adjacent stream that was completely re-built from a derelict state for the purpose. Tasmanian whisky is single malt - no blending. They finance the industry by selling shares in each barrel at 9% compound interest over 3 or 4 years. One investor bought half a million bucks worth of shares after doing a tour of the distillery. Hehe. *Hic*

When I visit Tassie on the Odyssey, it'll be for a period of about 3 months. The cost of getting the ferry across (with the rig) is fairly expensive so it's not something you'd wanna do too often. Besides, there's a helluva lot to see and do in Tassie so 3 months is not a long time, really. I'll book a one-way trip over and the same on my return - off season, of course.

Daylight saving began at 2am today. Nobody told the birdies though. They still assemble at the usual hour for their morning choir meeting. This is also our Labor Day long weekend and the weather is pretty good. Sunny and a top of 31C. I think it's school holidays as well.

From the Beeb: US special forces have carried out two separate raids in Africa targeting senior Islamist militants, American officials say. In Libya, US commandos captured an al-Qaeda leader accused of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Anas al-Libi was seized in the capital Tripoli. And a leader of the al-Shabab group was targeted in southern Somalia, but that raid appears to have failed.

Most of the 400,000 US defence department staff sent home amid the US government shutdown have been told to return to work next week. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the decision was based on an interpretation of the Pay Our Military Act. A budget row between Republicans and Democrats has forced the closure of federal services for five days now. But the sides have now voted to approve back-pay for the 800,000 federal workers sent home without salaries. In a rare moment of bipartisan co-operation, the House of Representatives on Saturday approved by 407-0 a bill to pay the federal workers once the shutdown ends.

Prince Harry has begun his first official trip to Australia by joining centenary celebrations to mark its navy's arrival at Sydney Harbour. He was greeted by huge crowds as he embarked on survey ship HMAS Leeuwin at the city's Garden Island naval base, before inspecting the flotilla. Both Harry and his bro William are very popular in Oz and have probably been responsible for reviving interest in our Constitutional Monarchy system of government.

More and more aircraft have to share airspace, and this will only get worse as our cities grow. In the next part of our Building Tomorrow series, former Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn says we have to rethink everything from how high we fly to how air traffic is managed. Veeeeery interesting!

Just out of curiosity I took a look at motorhomes for sale on Gumtree. Sheesh. I'm glad I've got PJ. About the only thing that came close to what I paid for PJ was a '76 Kombi poptop for $10K. There was an '88 Toyota Dyna for $18K but other than that most everything was around $50K and up. Newer Winnies were $100K and up to $200K. I'd hate to start from scratch again hoping to find something affordable (for me) like PJ. I'm not exactly sure what PJ has cost all up but my guess is around $12K.

Roite. Shakedown. I have surgery on a skin cancer this Tuesday which will mean stitches out the following Tuesday (15th) and probably a dental appointment Wednesday (16th) so that will leave the rest of the week and weekend free. I'll aim for that. Hopefully, I can fire up the old fridge on mains power before I leave. PJ is parked in the drive which is on a slight slope. I think TX Greg said if the level bubble is somewhere between the lines it should be okay. And that's where it is, off center just on the line. BTW, I noticed the sticker with the fridge serial # and specs - 240V, 125W and 5.5A. Remember Cody always using "amped"? I wonder if he knew what the technical term meant. Prolly not.

But I'm sure Code would have been amped about PJ and the Odyssey. Actually, I'm chuckling at the mo cos I can imagine some of the mischievous comments he would make. All untrue, of course. He was an incorrigible scallywag through and through.

One thing I'm hoping for is that the shakedown will allay any misgivings I might have about life on the road, and make me more determined to get it happening as soon as poss. Even regular mini Os would be good, and perhaps psychologically speed up the gum healing process. As I've mentioned before, there is no shortage of great camp spots around the Manning Valley and adjoining areas.

Yes, everyone's wild about Harry. Splashed across the front of this morning's Telegraph is a pic of Harry posing with our PM, his wife and two daughters at Sydney's Kirribilli House. Not a bad view from the front lawn, yes? It occurred to me when I was watching the festivities last night on telly (great show) that ex-PM Kevin Rudd must be positively fuming about having missed out on being Australia's leader for the RAN Centenary Celebrations. Likewise ex-PM Julia Gillard who was tossed out of office after a challenge by Rudd only a few months ago. Gillard is out of politics altogether and Rudd is a lowly backbencher. How the mighty have fallen.

After 5pm and still daylight, but certain things don't change, like dinner and the 7 o'clock news. Meanwhile, I have a date set for the shakedown, and a place, Wingham Brush. Gary

October 5, 2013. How's this for a brilliant pic? Saw it on Red Bubble this morning. There are some really talented peeps on RB and it's been a great learning curve for me, just observing the work of others and trying to improve my stuff each time I post something. Speaking of which, I just spent about an hour taking a pic of a vase I quite like - a cheapie from the Sallies - and here it is. Something from nothing, yeah? It's plain white, which looks a bit boring in a photo, so I grabbed a little red branch from the garden and laid it over. The faint shadows give it a 3-D look.

Oh, yes, the fog. Well, maybe it was foggy somewhere else on the mid north coast but not here in Taree. I peeked through the curtains at 5am and it was as clear as a bell - thank god. Hehe. So I went back to sleep. And I don't feel guilty cos I did the vase instead.

TX Greg wrote: Speaking of urinate and defecate, did you remember to get some chemicals to add to the water in the porta potty? I've always used and liked Thetford's Aqua Kem products...

Ah, yes, chemicals. Well, there's been a bit of discussion about that on the GN forum and the consensus seems to be that the best thing to use is home brand nappy (diaper) wash powder. Dilute a bit in warm water, pour into waste container and Bob's yer uncle. Cheap as chips, very effective, no odor, and no chemicals. In fact, if there's no dump point around, you can empty it in regular loos without environmental damage. A little in the water tank once every 2 or 3 weeks keeps it clean and free of algae too. So there's a 1kg pack in PJ ready to go.

Justin is closing his blog. Now that he's a real doc, life is busy as all hell and he just doesn't have the time to do his blog justice. That's the way it goes... life moves on.

I suspect updates to AO will change when I'm on the road. Instead of sitting here espousing profundities (hehe) and thinking aloud, I'll be actively seeking out content - meeting, greeting, photographing, peddaling my bicycle, taking walks, moving on to new camps, sitting around campfires, and all that jazz, so updates won't be as regular as the 9 to 5 thing I've been doing thus far. I'm not sure how it will work out - maybe 2 or 3 times a week instead of the current 7. Not all places I visit will have internet access, so there could be breaks of a few days or a week from time to time. Also, if I'm taking lots of pics it'll take time to assemble them, make an album, write the journal, organize all the links, etc. It's a big job.

From the Beeb: Warships from 17 nations sailed into Sydney Harbour on Friday to join the city's centenary celebrations of the Australian navy fleet's first visit. Around 40 warships - as well as 16 tall ships - will participate in the International Fleet Review on Saturday, which is the main event commemorating the arrival of the original Royal Australian Navy fleet a century ago.

John Boehner has spent most of his House speakership trying to keep the various factions of his Republican majority together. With the recent government shutdown crisis, Boehner's ability to manage his caucus is once again being tested.

Why do we laugh? We don’t just laugh at funny things, the reason we chuckle is that it serves an important purpose in our lives, as James May explains

Ho, ho, ho. People who laugh at their own comments as a kind of nervous reaction annoy me. "I slept in this morning because I forgot to set the alarm, hahahahahahaha!" Sheesh. Averil has this irritating facial expression she uses to make you believe she's trying to supress a laugh at something she just said, but it's fake. Grrrrr. Most irritating of all is when she's on the phone to some insufferably boring person but laughs in all the right places anyway just to be polite.

There was a native of Vanuatu who often walked by this house, and who had the most gorgeous little daughter with bows in her hair. He was completely bald, probably shaven, and jolly. He had a very dark complexion with wide, bright eyes, and always looked to me like he'd just feasted on boiled missionary. Anyway, he had a genuine laugh - a kind of giggle actually - and he used it all the time even when he said good day, hehe. It was very infectious. Dunno where he went - probably moved somewhere else where there's a better supply of fresh missionaries.

I like dry humor and laconic wit, the kind you get out back from country folk. They say the most hilarious things without a hint of a smile hehe. Cracks me right up. In reference to our long droughts, you're likely to hear a farmer say, "It's as dry as a Pommy towel out here, mate", with reference to the English habit of infrequent bathing.

Poms have been known to define an Australian as someone "who reads comic books without moving their lips". They have also stated an Australian gentlemen is "someone who offers to light his girlfriend's farts."

The country itself is the ultimate joke; the wave you body-surf into shore after a day at the beach could contain a shark or a rip-tide and, when you get back, your house could have been burnt to the ground in a bush fire. That's where the whole 'no worries' thing comes from, wrote Mark Little.

What kind of Memorial would a country like Australia build in honor of a Prime Minister who drowned while swimming at a beach? The Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool, of course.

Did you know that Australians of Greek extraction are given gold chains by their fathers so they know where to stop shaving?

I think NC Art will appreciate this comparison between Windows and Ford autos.

Well, it's time I absconded. I had a little dose of inner shedness earlier and some woman walking past looked in as if to say, "What's HE doing?" I'm imagining the view out the back door is what I'm doing. Which reminds me, I must set a date for the shakedown or it'll never happen. Gary

October 4, 2013. What happened to our hot spring? Cool today, dangit. But that hasn't dampened Sydney's enthusiasm for the Royal Australian Navy's International Fleet Rreview, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet into Sydney.

Pity I'm not in Sydney to take piccies of the event.

The last time I saw something like that was back in 1988 when I was on board a 53' ketch as the tall ships entered Sydney Harbor for the bi-centenary of the arrival of the First Fleet. What a day that was!

Hmmm. Life was pretty good in '88. I had my own successful biz, a house, a Kombi campervan, plenty of dough and teeth. Hehe. I'm hoping life on the Odyssey will be the same. Not as much dough but enough, with lots of things to do and see, and to write about and take photos of. It'll be my swan song. Everyone needs something bigger than himself to believe in, someone said on telly last night. How true. If you don't have something to believe in, what do you have?

One GN has the signature line, "It's not what you do, it's who you are." I disagree. I think it's the other way around. However, I can see his point. He's talking about the value of a person no matter whether he's a prince or a peasant. I'm talking about deeds.

"You don't swear," Peter the engineer said to me one time. "I swear all the time. Is it because you were a radio announcer?" I thought it was a curious observation. I knew plenty of radio announcers who swore their heads off off-air. So I explained that I wasn't in the habit. Swearing is a habit. A peer thing that begins as a teen (or younger) to fit in with the herd. Equally curious was the absence of swearing in my presence as if it might offend me hehe. If swearing becomes habitual, it loses its value as an emphasiser or embellisher.

Recently on the GN forum, someone bitched about the built-in text censor that causes words such as cockpit to become ****pit. So I typed a comment using the word penis and it survived publication unscathed. It strikes me that it's only slang that's offensive. Sexual intercourse is not offensive. Vagina is not offensive. Testicle is not offensive. But it also depends on the level of slang. For some strange reason I don't understand, it's okay to be buggered but not fucked. Hehe. It's okay to talk about poo or poop and even crap but not shit. We can talk about breasts but not tits. Flatulence is fine but not fart.

Swearing is often described as vulgar or foul. But if sexual organs are described using formal names such as penis and vagina that's not considered vulgar or foul. The words urinate or defecate are not considered vulgar or foul (although the actions might be). So it must be that polite society's abhorrence of swearing is related to the use of slang rather than any reference to bodily functions per se. Yes? No? 

Then you get the quasi swearers who use words like friggin or freakin or shoot. In any case, being a writer who enjoys words and their effective usage, I honestly fail to understand what sex organs and bodily waste have to do with the weather or whatever else they're used to describe. How do you explain a sentence such as, "Where the fuck did I put my fuckin' shoes?"

No, I don't swear (much). I don't see the point. And peer pressure? You can stick that right up your clacker.

The bootie finally got around to fixing the hole in my sheepskin seat cover. "Come back in an hour and I'll have it ready for you." He's trying to keep me fit. So I walked up there again. No spare sheepskin so he used a bit of spare leather. Fine with me - beats a hole. He charged me $9.90. "Better to be cheap and here," he said, "than dear and not here." I also told him about my "fix" for the hatchet hehe, and he thought it was pretty cool.

Not much on the Beeb today but OR Richie commented on the US deadlock in congress: that of our governmental shutdown, which must baffle half the world if not more, and that of the hardline party politics which is sadly led by tea party nitwits, and even though there are enough democratic AND Republican votes in the house to settle it simply, the vote won't come up and be allowed with no strings attached because the Speaker won't let it, and what they tell most Americans is so absurd and misinformed that it should insult a well educated sixth grader.... and absolutely a ninth grader, where the ability to reason is presumed to be in place.  Reason?  What reason?  Ugh.  What a mess.... AGAIN.  Yeah... defund the affordable health care act... sometimes known as Obamacare.  This is beyond misbelief, really.

Someone on The Drum last night said America owed $13 trillion. Is that right? Anyway, it's more than Australia's GDP. I forget what he said the US social welfare cost was - something mind boggling. America has a culture of credit; it spends more than it makes. Oh yes, I remember what sparked those comments - there was a US government employee interviewed who said they live paycheck to paycheck, and that they could survive without one paycheck but not two. So much for savings. 

From Wikipedia: The gross Australian federal debt was A$244,325,881,000 as of 31 August 2012. That's billion in case you're trying to work it out.

One thing I've become increasingly aware of is how much it costs in interest to keep my credit cards afloat. Most of my money (apart from regular bills such as rent, power, food, etc) has gone on PJ over the past few years, so the credit cards have taken a back seat. Now that PJ is virtually done and dusted, it's time to whittle those credit cards down to "zero owing". That will save me over a hundred a month! Close to $1500 a year! 

The other day, I complimented Mieke on being able to produce "something from nothing" when she took a pic of a puddle and a few rocks reflecting the dawn light. She answered by insisting that she's not as clever as I think she is, and to check out more photos of "something from nothing". Yes, I see what she means.

So when is this cool weather gonna P off and return to warm and sunny? According to the forecast, tomorrow. Oooo goodie! Fog in the morning. Ya know what a bloke should do? If a bloke's serious about photography, a bloke should wake early, just before sunrise, and toddle down the road to the Martin Bridge and take a pic of the bridge over the Manning River shrouded in fog as the day breaks. Yeah? Yeah. Try telling me that at 5am when it's 6C. Hopefully, I won't wake up until too late. :o)

Speaking of late, it's after 5-ish. Earlier, I rustled up a Cantonese beef stir fry (with ground beef), onion and capsicum (bell peppers). But now I hear the call of the telly. That'll be a thing of the past on the Odyssey I imagine... too many other things to occupy my time, especially during daylight. Anyway, that's then and this is now. Gary

October 3, 2013. Steve W wrote: That's not an axe! ....if it fits in the credit card nasal hair clipper would be bigger than that. Speaking of which, isn't it somewhat odd where hair commences to grow at a certain stage in life! Just a today, bald tomorrow.

That's true, it's not an axe, it's a hatchet, but I can't spell hatchet. I can spell tomahawk though. Anyway, it's only for chopping/splitting a bit of firewood occasionally. I used to have a splitter back in my Canberra days when I was in charge of splitting logs for the fire, but I was 20 years younger then. One GN on the forum has a bloody chainsaw!

According to TX Greg re my comment yesterday: "I was 18, gorgeous and horny as hell"... The horny part must have looked something like Mr. Bean, HAHAHA

Too far back for me to remember, Greg. Hehe. But if Mr Bean's willie doesn't stop what it's doing soon I'll whack it with my fly swat.

NC Art, on the other hand, was more interested in wheels: That vid of the old Dodge reminded me of movie short subjects featuring the Keystone Kops. Slap happy driving, bungling chases after bank robbers and such. Also, I’ve seen Model T Fords taking wild rides on muddy, rutted roads. Those high wheels would take the old beasts through astonishing terrain that I wouldn’t think of hitting in anything built after 1935.

When I bought the old Morris, I had a workmate who had a Beetle. One time, he invited me to follow him on a dirt track through dense bush somewhere on the outskirts of Sydney. It had been raining quite a bit over several days and, unbeknown to me, the track was muddy and slippery in places. His mission was to prove the superiority of his Beetle and cause me to get stuck. I don't remember much about it except slipping and sliding all over the place, and spinning the wheel this way and that to keep the old Morris pointed roughly forwards. I never let that Beetle out of my sight hehe. Finally, we reached the end of the track, turned around, and headed back. I didn't think it was such a big deal at the time but apparently it was. 

His Beetle, by the way, was a lime green '62 1/2 model with overriders and a fuel gauge. How posh!

Meanwhile, here are some interesting insights from an older GN: It is the length of the footprint of the tyre that matters, not the width. He would have been running low pressure as well for the mud.

But what can you say except that some fellows are magicians with their vehicles. They understand how to do it and they have plenty of practice to help.

For the rest of us ordinary types the emphasis has to be on conserving the vehicle and of course the payload.

We had an old Ford on the farm that I remember would go everywhere. In truth though the men knew the land features and walked any path they were unsure of prior, and they did go slowly, picking their way. No-one rushed into mud for fear of the sharp rocks, holes and tree limbs that could rip the fuel lines and so on out of the vehicle. I also remember the old truck dry bogged on dry grass and ball-bearing rubble on the slightest of slopes. -We were once in danger of sliding sideways over a drop with a load and saved only by having just enough space to accelerate slowly at a shallow angle. Very sweaty shirts that day.

The only thing I don't like about modern vehicles are the computer bits such as computer chip dwell angle sensors that save a poofteenth of a mile per gallon and if they fail you are hopelessly stranded with nothing you can do to remedy. Honestly, who would put delicate electronics that hate heat, dust and moisture into a vehicle that can and will go into remote areas? It was government bureaucrats and their 'environmental' legislation that did that I suppose.

From the Beeb: A long-running feud has pitted protesters from a village of 2,000 people in the shadows of Australia's temperate rainforest against one of the world's most recognisable brands. Tranquil Tecoma, 35km (20 miles) east of central Melbourne, has become a battleground between McDonald's and "community" protesters over the construction of a 24-hour drive-through restaurant

I suppose the protesters have a point. Once a precedent is set, along comes KFC, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc, and the character of the village is forever spoiled.

Best-selling US author Tom Clancy has died at the age of 66, his publisher Penguin has confirmed. Clancy wrote a string of best-selling spy and military thrillers. His 17th novel, Command Authority, is due out in December. Written in his spare time, The Hunt for Red October (1984) was Clancy's first published novel and sold more than five million copies.

About 200 people took part in the UK's first Ginger Pride march in August, and the world record for the largest gathering of natural redheads was broken last month when 1,600 attended the Redhead Day Festival in the Dutch town of Breda. But how many redheads are there in the world - and where do they live? I was a redhead - white now.

I was called all the usual names; carrot top, ginge, red, rusty, red ned. I think it's Utan these days (from orangutan).

Not hot today but windy, and there's a major bushfire not far north of here at Crowdy Head National Park, a popular camping area. I heard on the radio they're throwing everything at it - choppers, bombers, and a lot of crews on the ground. Last report it was heading towards Port Macquarie. The official bushfire season started October 1st but there have been a number of serious fires already, including one at Palm Beach on Sydney's northern peninsular the other day. Here's a map of the current fires in NSW.

There was a program on telly the other night about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and if I didn't think it was a genuine illness before, I sure do now. The story was about a doc from Canada who served in Afghanistan for 4 years, running a field hospital that was often short of staff, medication and equipment to do the job properly. He slept on average 3 hours a night, and often didn't sleep at all. He was interviewed by an Aussie journalist back then who met him again 4 years later at his home in Canada, with his wife, to discuss his PTSD. During the program, they showed clips from the original doco - footage of innocent victims of land mines, including children. One injured boy, whose older brother was killed outright, was treated and seemed to be improving. Footage showed his bare feet twitching as he endured intense pain, and his hand wrapped around the doctor's for support. The scene was gut wrenching. He was 9. Overnight he died of a massive brain hemorrhage.

The interviewer asked the doc how he coped with all the screaming from patients. "Screaming? What screaming? Patients don't scream." Then the interviewer played a clip and the doc heard the screams. "So they do scream. We shut it out. We have to."

The term "ultimate obscenity" was used on the program to describe war, and I couldn't agree more. Every night we see reports of the horrors of war - devastation, misery, killing and maiming - but have become desensitized... "And a warning, the following report contains images that some viewers may find distressing." But who does? Well, the doc did. The interviewer did. The father of those two boys did. And all those people involved in the field did. Seeing it on a television screen is not the same. You can change channels. You can walk away. You can forget about it. But not in the field. It's all around you 24/7. The ultimate obscenity, compliments of man's inhumanity.

Anyway, if you know or hear of anyone with PTSD, don't underestimate its severity.

Well, on that jolly note, it's time to bid thee farewell for another day. Oh, and I remembered something... missing from that pic of the interior of the Morris Oxford yesterday was the little lever on the steering hub for the "flipper" indicators on the door pillars. Gary

October 2, 2013. Who needs a 4WD? A GN posted this link to a promotional film by Dodge Bros during the 1920s. Great stuff.

Well, the bootie hasn't finished the wool seat cover yet but I asked him about making an axe sheath. Nope, can't do that... that's a saddler's job. Leather's too thick for his stitching machine. How about ready made on eBay? Nope, not unless you buy an axe and I've already got an axe. Sheaths are availabe in Merica but not Straya. Youtube has a couple of vids on how to make your own but all too hard. Soooooo, what does a bloke do? A bloke looks in the top drawer of his bedroom chest and finds a couple of old wallets. Buffalo hide - that should do. Sure enough, the axe blade slips neatly into the credit card pocket, and the wallet clips shut. Two large elastic bands keep it in place. Done. Hehe. That'll do until I come across a proper one some day.

I fiddled around in PJ for a while and got a whiff of the countryside, just like I was camped out in the bush somewhere. A large cattle truck went past with a load of live cattle for the abattoir at Wingham. Whew! That happened to me one time camped in the Kombi in Kangaroo Valley for 2 days. The field next door had several horses and a few cows. Country peeps don't notice those things but city folks do. Kangaroo Valley, by the way, is definitely on my list of places to visit (again). The scenery is stunning.

I'm pretty sure now that I'm in the process of unwinding after the stress of the past whatever years and the PJ project. No trouble sleeping 10 hours a night plus a nap or two during the day, or gazing unfocused into middle distance and letting the brain idle in neutral. I could probably sleep for a week if it weren't for doctors and dentists and Waffle.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has vowed not to allow Republicans to undermine his signature healthcare legislation as a condition to restart the US government. The government has partially shut down after the two houses of Congress failed to agree to a new budget, with Republicans insisting on the repeal or delay of Mr Obama's health law. "They demanded ransom," Mr Obama said.

According to a political analyst I watched on telly last night, the trouble is being caused by the Republican far right - the Tea Party - who have safe republican seats in their electorates with no threat of democrat competition during the next primaries (the vote for pre-selection before the main vote for the presidency). Anyway, the Tees are concerned that any compromise in Congress that allows the President's healthcare legislation to proceed intact will be deemed by their constituents as "doing deals" with the enemy, which would jeopardize the safety of their seats. They also see this legislation as the thin edge of a socialist wedge, and government meddling in areas best left to free enterprise.

It couldn't happen in Oz for two reasons: 1) both major parties believe that health, education and social welfare are the responsibilities of governments and 2) if inadequate funding (supply) were to jeopardize the normal running of government business, there would be an election rather than a shutdown.

Tony Gilroy, one of Hollywood's most sought-after screenwriters, is responsible for The Devil's Advocate, Armageddon and the Bourne films, to name just a few. Alison Feeney-Hart met the man whose 2007 film Michael Clayton saw him receive Bafta and Oscar nominations for best original screenplay to find out his Top 10 tips for writing a Hollywood blockbuster.

In pictures: India's Ambassador taxis. The reason these taxis interest me is that they're based on the '54 Morris Oxford, the model after my MO series, which was my first car. Tough old buggers.

Harvesting the sun's power to fire up a computer or tablet is an enticing idea in principle but challenging in practice. But researchers at Intel have developed a chip which overcomes many of the obstacles. It allows solar panels to plug into and power a device directly, without the need for a battery

Here's what my old Morris looked like from the inside. Same color too. The speedo shows a top speed of 90mph. Yeah, right, the thing was flat out like a lizard drinking at 68mph.

That owner has installed a few extra switches on his dash. The red one looks like it might be a push-button starter. The key ignition is in the center, next on the left (not the white one) is the pull-out choke. Can't remember which of the two on the right is the pull-out starter and which is the lights switch. That leaves the knob at far left for the wipers. But I do remember the electric fuel pump that began clicking furiously when the ignition was turned on. If it didn't, which was often, I had a nail file in the glove box which I used to clean the points. The pump was attached to the firewall in the engine bay just in front of the steering column. The column mounted gear lever was a 4-forward H configuration. First was towards you and up, with reverse towards the dash (from neutral) and down. Yes, I was 18, gorgeous and horny as hell when I first drove that thing hehe.

Well, goodness gracious me, with all this reminiscing the time has gotten away again, and it's time to Waddle off from my Waffling until tomorrow! Gary

October 1, 2013. TX Greg wrote: Oops! You doubled copied links (to the old Chevy auction) and put the news page link also on the "AP News Vid"...  Should be.... AP News Vid...

Yes, the bumectomy made a world of difference. The two are like a perfect match now, or should that be three, including you :)

Oh waiter, please bring Gary a bottle of your best Champagne. Time to christen PJ, but perhaps we should just drink the Champagne instead of what happened to these guys, hehe...

So when's the first test run campout???

Yep, I remember thinking I'd lost the plot when I was linking that text yesterday but missed it anyway. As to the first test run, sometime in October for sure - between dental appointments, etc. I need to make a few smoothies in advance to take with me and organize other meals. It's a bit of a hassle without choppers. Also use the house power to get the fridge up to speed before leaving. Other than that, everything's pretty much hot to trot.

Just got a call on the mobile from Nancy, checking to make sure I had two smoothies yesterday hehe. She's gonna make a cheesecake for me. "You don't have to eat the crust, just the topping." Yeah... I'll give it a shot. Does your dentist make you cheesecake? No? It's my wit and charm, ya know. I've got IT.

NC Art wrote: The Chevy car auction seemed weird. Then I read in Smithsonian magazine the tale of Harry Houdini and his flying machine in which he won fame for performing the first flight in a heavier than air contraption in Australia! That was in 1910 and his flight site was performed about 20 miles from Melbourne.

   The air frame was French and powered by an English engine which produced 60 to 80 horsepower. After a few more short flights in Oz the plane was crated up and shipped to England, where he planned to fly it to engagements on his tour of appearances. Then he apparently lost interest in flying … and his flying machine. It has been ‘lost’ ever since, but now there is a renewed effort to find the thing or solve the mystery of its disappearance.

   Not much to go on, not much hope, and not much do I care. Curiousier things have happened I’m sure.

I love the word "contraption" to describe old machinery and various devices put together in a backyard shed. It's a wonderful word that describes those things to a T. My dad would have been 7 at the time, probably too young (or disinterested) to notice Houdini's flight. He never mentioned it. He never mentioned much of anything, really, although he did say something about his father driving one of Sydney's first trucks, a Renault with solid rubber tires. He apparently used to follow the tracks to see where his dad was. My dad was not a very chatty person to say the least. When I worked in country radio I'd phone home occasionally. If he was the one who picked up the phone, the first and only thing he would say was, "Hang on, I'll get mum."

Yes, curiouser things have happened. But they're only curious to us. A bunch of Galapagos iguanas sitting around on the rocks, expelling jets of salt water from their nostrils, is just a normal way to spend a day at the beach as far as they're concerned. Hehe. Ho hum.

From the Beeb: President Barack Obama has said a potential US government shutdown is "entirely avoidable" as only a few hours remain to avert it. Mr Obama criticised Republicans for trying to refight the last election as they seek to link the budget to delaying his health care law. If no agreement is reached by midnight (04:00 GMT), the government will close all non-essential federal services. Does anyone care what the public thinks of all this nonsense?

Illegal drugs are now cheaper and purer globally than at any time over the last 20 years, a report has warned. The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy said its report suggested the war on drugs had failed. The report, published in the British Medical Journal Open, looked at data from seven international government-funded drug surveillance systems. High time for a rethink.

Seventy-five years after the Munich Agreement signed with Hitler, the name of Neville Chamberlain, British prime minister at the time, is still synonymous with weakness and appeasement. Is this fair, asks historian Robert Self. Fascinating insight into the man's dilemma.

Auction-watchers and car-collectors have used phrases like “field of dreams” and “wheels of fortune” and “mother lode” to describe the sale, on 28 and 29 September, of some 500 vintage cars – most of them Chevrolets from the 1950s and ‘60s, on a family farm in Pierce, Nebraska. Yep, the story even made the Beeb.

Back from the doc's and a skin cancer squirt. Blood pressure's perfect. And I'm booked in for next week to have one skin cancer surgically removed. I told him about Nancy and the cheese cake, and scolded him for never having made one for me. "Before you sit down, I want you to hop on the scales for me." "Does it really need to be a hop?"

PJ copped a few gusts of wind on the way there and back but nothing alarming. The old Kombi was just as bad if not worse. I've read reports of GNs getting into all sorts of bother with their awnings on windy days, though. Best left rolled up, methinks.

Well, isn't it amazing what the words "possible thunderstorm" on the forecast will do to motivate me to finish the sealing job around the antenna properly? All done. And it's blowing like crazy out there which means a storm is on its way. Been a hottie so it's not surprising.

And that's it for the oneth of October. Before I vamoose, here's a pic of another of my fav little cars of all time, the 1950s version of the original "Baby" Austin 7. This one is a 1957 Austin A35 (later version of the A30). Cute little thing.



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