the WAFFLE page

November 30, 2013. The sun is playing peek a boo but the forecast says showers clearing. That'll be noice. Justin wrote a piece on this blog this morning about returning home for Thanksgiving with all the family present, which made me realize what a solitary life I lead since Mom departed for the cosmos and family gatherings became a thing of the past. That was over 20 years ago.

So what takes the place of family? My blog. I'd be lost without my blog. I remember my first PC with no internet connection, and how uninspiring it was to be typing away and thinking aloud without an audience. What was the point? So I'd often down tools and go for a walk, sometimes into town where I'd have lunch at the Pizza Hut. It mattered not if I didn't converse with anyone. Just being surrounded by other people and observing them was sufficient - something to stimulate a bit of mental activity. Observation can be a great teacher as well as a source of endless entertainment.

Carrying a camera also helps to pass the time and provide opportunities for creating something useful - something to share with others. My friend Mieke on Red Bubble often takes her dog Banjo on walks and brings her camera along. She has an incredible instinct for capturing moments that go unnoticed by most of us. For example, when the sun begins to set at Cable Beach she finds a pool of seawater in the sand and uses it to create a stunning image such as this (click on the image to enlarge). At another spot on the beach, she notices how the wind has sculpted the sand into interesting shapes and uses the setting sun to enhance those shapes with shadow.

By capturing those moments in time - like jotting an idea down on a notepad - Mieke preserves something special to share with others at a later time. Delayed communication, as it were. But she's also not silly. No, no, no. Not our Mieke. She's just purchased a large printer so she can process her own prints and sell them at the local markets.

So that's more or less what I do with Waffle. Shake the brain in anticipation of something worthwhile tumbling onto the page rather than vanishing into oblivion as most thoughts do. I enjoy thinking. So why not put it in a bottle?

Weeeell, I opened one of the undertray tool box boxes and peeked inside. No fitting instructions? No bolts? Hmmm. I guess the engineer will have to figure out how to attach the things, and to what. Maybe he can fashion some sort of bracket to bolster support strength - the aluminium skin is only 1.5mm. They won't be carrying much weight but, even so, I don't want them falling off like over-ripe fruit from a mango tree. They're gonna look a bit strange as well, being all bright and shiny in contrast to a 40 y/o camper and 20 y/o ute.

Speaking of T shirts (were we?), I saw a bloke wearing a T with the message, "I poke holes in things to make them look Swiss". Hehe.

From the Beeb: A helicopter, thought to be a police aircraft, has crashed into a pub on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow. The crash happened at the Clutha Vaults in Stockwell Street. Jim Murphy, shadow development secretary, said there had been multiple injuries and reported a "pile of people" clambering out of a pub. Images of the crash on social media sites showed the dark blue helicopter on the roof with yellow "POLICE" insignia on part of the wreckage.

Americans are flocking to the shops for Black Friday, the bonanza US sales day held the day after Thanksgiving. But its massive popularity - the term Black Friday has been used more than 2 million times on Twitter in the past 24 hours - has a dark side. The vast volume of shoppers has led to chaotic scenes and outbreaks of violence. Stampedes and shootings have plagued the day, resulting in four deaths and 56 injuries in the past five years. There has been an online backlash against the day's rampant consumerism, to the extent of groups campaigning for a "Buy Nothing Day" to allow shop workers to spend more time with their families.

FL Josh wrote: You probably stumbled across this in your search for your old radio station but in case you didn't, it might be something to bring back some memories.  With your love for gambling, you were probably on the other side from this guy, and opposed to his actions.

I didn't, actually. But I remember Les Thompson. He was at 2UE doing Nightwatch from '71 to '76 but I didn't arrive till '79. I was at a bunch of other stations during his stint at UE. Incidentally, the 2 in UE is for New South Wales. The station was the first in Sydney and its call sign was originally EU for electrical utilities. But they changed it to UE because it was easier to say. Gambling came along later in life for me. I wasn't interested until I worked at radio stations that broadcast races. It was then that I got to know various race callers and others involved in the industry. Now I'm back to where I was. I don't play the nags or the dogs, I don't play the slots, but I do have a few bob on Lotto.

As to illegal clubs, yes, I did frequent a few of those in Kings X during the '70s and '80s but they weren't gambling clubs. I was king hit in one of them and sank to the floor unconscious. The owners bundled me into a small store room and called the cops. When I came round, I had no idea where I was or why. I found a door and staggered into the arms of a cop who said, "You must be the hitee."

Well, all this link to link business led me to Sean Flannery's obit in the Sydney Morning Herald. Sean took over from Thompson with the Nightwatch program. Now there was a rogue and scallywag if ever there was one hehe. Sean Flannery had a rep as long as both his arms. What a character. I knew him quite well, and we shared a beer or two at the Rag & Famish pub just down the road from 2UE. Check out the obit - he's pictured there in the same studio I used. You'll see Ian Parry-Okeden's name mentioned as well. Ian owned this ROCKON Chevy that I'm pretending is mine. Parry-Okeden is on the far left in the lower pic. If I'm not mistaken, he's drinking a bottle of green dishwashing liquid.

Yes, I remember that day. A group of us from 2UE drove out to Palm Beach in the Chevy with The Beach Boys blaring on the car radio. 

Paddy was walking home late at night and sees a woman in the dark shadows. 'Thirty euros,' she whispers. Paddy had never been with a hooker before, but decides well why not, it's only thirty euros. So they hid in the bushes.

They're going 'at it' for a minute when all of a sudden a light flashes on them. It is the police. 'What's going on here, people?' asks the cop.

'I'm making love to me wife,' Paddy answers sounding annoyed.

'Oh, I'm sorry,' says the cop, 'I didn't know.'

'Well, neidder did I, til ya shined that bloody light in her face!'

NC Art is having probs with his email being returned by my ISP again. I dunno what the prob is but I've notified my ISP. Trouble is it's the weekend and they're all at the pub.

Well, so much for showers clearing. They didn't. But the bureau says they will tomorrow and it'll be fine and sunny most of the week. Meanwhile, I'm all thunk out so it's cheerio chaps! Gary

November 29, 2013. Jeez, the framing biz is the one to be in! I called in this morning to get a couple of boxes for the Willebrant print and was amazed by the size of the place and the amount of stuff in there. It's obviously a thriving trade. There's a large DIY section as well. Anyway, just one of the boxes is perfect (with a bit of surgery) for my needs.

Andrew was here earlier to fit a couple of Anderson plugs to the battery isolator wiring. He also fixed my el cheapo 12V fan. He didn't wanna charge me anything for either job so I insisted and he settled for $20 - so I gave him $30. Now I'm ready to have the tool boxes fitted and a few other jobs done, and that'll be it - for a while. PJ will be fully equipped and ready to rock and roll at a moment's notice. Oh yeah... spare tire. And another ground sheet to cover the bike.

So now it's just a matter of organizing a second shakedown.

As I arrived back from the framing place, I noticed how delighted the hibiscus is with the rain this morning, lots of smiling faces - so I took a pic. It's amazing how quickly the garden responds to rain. In just a week or so the grass went from brown and lifeless to lush and green again. In some parts of Oz, they refer to a 'green drought', where there's just enough rain to green the surface vegetation but not enough to soak into the soil.

And speaking of pics, here's another from Life magazine 1963.

From the Beeb: China has sent warplanes to its newly declared air defence zone in the East China Sea, state media reports. The vast zone, announced last week, covers territory claimed by China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. China has said all planes transiting the zone must file flight plans and identify themselves, or face "defensive emergency measures". Remember that silly 'dare' game we played at school?

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the biggest economy in the world. Full from their Thanksgiving feasts, millions of US shoppers descend on stores across the country on the Friday after the holiday, hoping to save on their Christmas shopping. But as ever more promotions proliferate - add Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday to the shopping calendar - the question remains: Just what is Black Friday anyway?

A hotel in Queensland, Australia, says it wants to keep graffiti by the Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, despite being at odds with local authorities who think it is an eyesore and have asked for it to be removed.  It's thought the singer spray-painted cartoon faces onto an external wall of their Gold Coast hotel earlier this week.

Australia has blocked US conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland's (ADM) A$3.4bn ($3.1bn; £1.9bn) takeover of GrainCorp - its biggest grain merchant. Treasurer Joe Hockey said the proposal had attracted "a high level of concern" and an acquisition "would not be in our national interest". Agriculture firms have become takeover targets amid rising global demand for food, especially from emerging markets. Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of wheat. You've already got our bloody Vegemite!

Well, this is all very flash. World Vision now provides an email service to sponsored children. Now I can go on the web site, write a letter, attach a file or two, and send it off! I just wanted Anyel to know that I think he looks very handsome in his new shoes and that I share his interest in cars. I sent a pic of PJ and told him that I will soon be traveling to various parts of Oz to take pics and write about my adventures. He won't have access to a computer or the internet so just an occasional pic and g'day will do. But the service sure beats the hell outta snail mail and stamps.

I've not mentioned the cancer thing to Anyel. Santa Claus is always happy and jolly, right? Besides, the whole point of the exercise is his welfare, not mine.

Yesterday I was at my local Woolworths store buying a large bag of My Dog dog food for my loyal pet and was in the checkout queue when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had an elephant? So, since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Dog Diet again. I added that I proba...bly shouldnt, because I ended up in hospital last time, but I'd lost 10 kilograms before I woke up in intensive care with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pockets with My Dog nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in queue was now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked me if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off the kerb to sniff an Irish Setter's arse and a car hit me.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. I'm now banned from Woolworths.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of daft things to say.

Time to toddle off to telly land, dear Breth. The courier for the Willebrant didn't arrive, so god knows what the story is there. He didn't strike me as particularly sharp. Oh well... I'll let the buyer know. He organized the courier so he can sort it out. Gary

November 28, 2013. Goodness gracious me, it's after 10 already and I haven't started yet. Well, I have but not on Waffle. I've been searching for a photo for the Scrapbook - a building I used to work in. That can be very time consuming - one thread leads to another and to another and on and on it goes. I did find one interesting group, a bunch of skyscraperphiles who love taking pics of cityscapes and discussing the pros and cons of new and refurbished towers in North Sydney.

I'm learning just how important it is to take pics; to seize the photographic moment as it were as we go about our daily lives. Things change and time marches on. You can't go back. If there's no photo of a particular time or event in your life, that's it. There's no second chance. It's often the ordinary and mundane that becomes significant in later years. I'm lucky in that I do have a fair record of events in my life but there are many others that went unrecorded, dangit.

Imagine if iPhones had been around during Jesus' time and we had access to pics of the 12 apostles, the Last Supper, Joseph and Mary and Jesus himself. And the Three Wise Men! Things might be very different now if we did. Very different indeed.

NEWS FLASH: The heel of one of Lindsay's thongs broke so he bought a new pair for $12.

Just got a phone call from North Sydney council who pointed me in the direction of their heritage web site where, with a bit of searching, I found the pic I was looking for. Now all I gotta do is get permission to use it. Stanton Library owns the copyright. The pic is of Radio 2UE taken in 1971. When they hired me in 1979, there was no room for an office so they "banished" me to the lunch/locker room in the basement next to the loos and undercover car park. It was cool though. I could come and go as I pleased... usually the latter. Hehe. The building was demolished during the '90s to make way for a residential tower called Harvard, and 2UE moved to Greenwich into a rented property.

Bit quiet on the Beeb front today but here's an interesting magazine story: Stories abound of humans brought up by wild animals, but often they are pure fiction. It's rare to find someone who re-entered society after living in the company of animals and is able to talk cogently about his experiences - including, apparently, sharing food with a family of wolves.

If I were camped somewhere on the Odyssey, today is the kinda day I'd feel less guilty about not having much to do. I could have a snooze on the lounger or go for a walk with the camera. Instead, I'm sitting here, with bright sunshine outside, shaking my brain in the hope that something interesting falls out. But there's nothing forthcoming and even the Beeb is on strike. Hmmm, maybe there's something interesting happening on the GN forum.

Nuttin much there either. BUT things went crazy here a few minutes ago. A courier arrived to collect the Willebrant print. Had the wrong phone #. Sheesh. He's also a general carrier so is not equipped to handle a glass framed print unless it's properly packaged, so he's gonna call back same time tomorrow. Meanwhile I phoned a local picture framer and he has a couple of old boxes that might do the trick. I'll collect them in the morning. Then Andrew phoned. He'll be here at sparrow's tomorrow to install a connector to the isolator wiring. After that, I'll check with Jason about fitting the tool boxes and doing a few other jobs. So that was like a mini typhoon suddenly hitting the joint.

Oh yeah, and in the middle of all that, the North Sydney council librarian wrote to say I can use the low res image of 2UE if I sign a form requesting permission and credit the pic appropriately. But the damn PDF form won't print! Can you print an email attachment on screen without downloading it? Maybe I'm out of ink.

And here it is 5pm already. Where did the day go? Ah ha! FL Josh just wrote, and he's a very excited man: Yesterday, I spent 15-20 minutes test driving a 2004 Bentley T-24 Mulliner, and I have never in my life driven a more powerful car.  When I would stomp on it, it pressed you tight into the seat.  0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, a governor on the engine keeps it from going over 170 mph.  It weighs over 6,000 lbs.  It has a 6.75 liter V8 engine with twin turbo chargers, 450 hp at 4100 rpms, and develops a mid boggling 645 ft lbs of torque!!!  Around town it gets 9 mpg, about the same as PJ.  On the highway, about 14 mpg.  It had so many buttons I thought I was sitting in the cockpit of a 747.  I touched one button and the outside mirrors instantly folded tight against the sides of the car.  I haven't a clue what that is for.  Do Bentley owners run their cars through a car wash when Jeeves has the day off???  The black paint was flawless and smooth as glass.  This was one of 24 built in 2004 to celebrate Bentley's historic 6th win at LeMans in 2003, and it has very little bright trim on the outside and the inside, instead of the beautiful wood trim, it has carbon fiber, with all the lacquer to make it look like glass.  It had a button labeled "Sport" that could be pressed to get even more power but I didn't push it.  Each passenger, in addition to electrically controlling his seat (even the back seats will recline slightly), can control the temperature and the back seat passengers have their own controls for audio.  The Alpine radio system sounded fantastic.  Had GPS navigation, and air bags everywhere.  I'm not sure that is necessary because if I owned such a car and wrecked it, I would want to die!!!

Yes, but does it have a kitchen sink?

See? No kitchen sink! Gary

November 27, 2013. 15 minutes to Nancy time. Then at 11, it's the doc for surgery on the skin cancer that wasn't completely removed last time. Isn't life grand?

Nope. Nancy got caught up in traffic so she was late. I'm due back in an hour while she pokes around in another bloke's mouth. Mouths are pretty important ya know. It's not until you have one that doesn't work properly that you really appreciate them.

Meanwhile, Steve W wrote: That pic of the "mechanic horse" reminded me of a caller on Laws's show last week…….there had been a particularly annoying caller called Norman and a wag called in to say "you and Norman should go in pantomime playing a horse……you dress up in the front and Norman can just play himself"! Tickled my funny bone it did!

Laws has always had a knack of capitalizing on eccentric callers. I remember years ago he had a bloke from Kings Cross who would phone Laws from a public phone booth and do a harmonica recital hehe. Another time, an old lady called and rabbited on about something or other for ages, so Laws took the opportunity to play commercials over the top. You could still hear the woman in the background, and every once in a while, Laws interjected with an appropriate "really?" and "that's amazing!" then continued with the ads. After about 10 minutes or so, the woman finished her spiel and Laws thanked her for the call, but no one had a clue what it was all about. And the woman was none the wiser.

NC Art wrote: (Womens Lib) Waay B4 labor saving devices Robert Burns penned this one:

Curst be the man, the poorest wretch in life
The crouching vassal to a tyrant wife
Who hath no will but by her high permission
Who hath not sixpence but in her possession.

Had such a woman fallen to my lot
I’d break her spirit or I’d break her heart
I’d charm her with the magic of a switch,
I’d kiss her maids and kick the perverse bitch.

So, the condition is not a modern tribulation.

Now there's a word you don't hear all that often. You don't take your car to the service department and say you have a tribulation with the starter motor.

FL Josh wrote: First, I am so sorry to hear of Sue's passing, and only 59.  What a shame. For 31 years, his "darling Susie" was his life, and suddenly all that is gone.  My heart goes out to him.  And what makes it even sadder is he is all alone in his grief.  Not a sympathetic soul around to comfort him.  He is certainly feeling terribly alone.

Actually, he's pretty resilient, and he has the funeral in England with all the gang to look forward to. He said that will be his closure. The rellos have asked him to stay for 5 or 6 weeks.

Magnetic Bill is wrong in correcting star Yank, TX Greg.  Bill says that a US gallon is 4 liters and that is incorrect.  A liter is 3.785 US gallons.  Here is the real scoop on your estimated gas mileage.

A liter is a liter no matter what country you are in.
There are US gallons and Imperial gallons.
1 liter = .264 US gallons
kilometers and miles are the same no matter what country you are in.
1 km = .621 mi
So if you used 20 liters to go 160 km
20 liters =5.28 US gallons
160 km = 99.36 mi
Dividing 99.36 mi by 5.28 US gallons gives 18.8 miles per US gallon (mpug???)

1 liter = .212 Imperial gallons
20 liters = 4.24 Imperial gallons
Dividing 99.36 mi by 4.24 US gallons gives 23.4 miles per Imperial gallon (mpig???)

So TX Greg got it right.  Your gas mileage by US standards would be about 19 mpg on the highway and about 9.5 mpg around town.

Well, I figure Oz used Imperial gallons back in the days when God Save the Queen played at the close of TV transmission each night, which means I'm getting 23.4mpg in the old lingo. That's not too bad considering the weight I'm lugging around. It also means 5th gear is working well (which I don't use around town).

Yesterday, I heard the announcer on radio invite callers to nominate a lie their parents told them when they were kids that they believed. A couple said they were told that when Mr Whippy played Greensleeves it meant he'd run out of ice cream hehe. Nancy was horrified when I told her but she laughed as well. What a cruel thing to do! But it worked (apparently). What's not working, according to Nancy, is the cheaper brand of Vitamin E I bought a while back and she wants me to go back to Blackmores. Meanwhile, she's pulling a few strings with friends to see if she can get me a supply for free. 

What reminded me of the Mr Whippy thing was a woman in the waiting room whose kids were playing up so she told them if they didn't behave the dentist would stick a big needle in them. Charming! Speaking of which, I'm off to the doc. Bleh.

Eight sutures! I thought it was just a clean-up job to dispose of a bit of left-over cancer from last time. And it was. But the doc explained that the biop peeps said the remaining cancer was at the end "but they didn't say which end". Hehe. So he had to remove both ends.

On the way back I called in to Roads and Maritime to collect my bicycle rack plate and did a little shopping which included a small bottle of Blackmores E. So here we are at 1pm and it's time for breakfast. What an exciting life I lead. Never a dull moment.

When I first became a World Vision sponsor of little Anyel in Nicaragua, he was almost two y/o and grumpy hehe. I just received an update about his progress and there he is sitting on a pile of rocks in a garden with his new shoes and colorful clothes looking a fine specimen of a young man. He's even smiling! He's 4 now and attending pre-school. The report says he's underweight (that makes two of us) but WV has taught the family to plant better crops in their plot, and they also have a chicken coop which doubles as an income! I guess they're selling some of the eggs. Capitalism!

Anyel's favorite bird is the parakeet, and having seen the colors of his clothing I'm not surprised. But those Central American people tend to be very colorful with blankets, trinkets and ceremonial attire. It suits their jet black hair and coffee colored skin. His mother writes: Thank you very much for the support you have given my son during this whole year. I want to tell he loves eating beans with cheese. He loves playing with cars. His favorite animal is the parakeet. He likes we tell him stories. His favorite is Little Red Riding Hood. We call him Anyelito to show him our love.

From the Beeb: Prince William sings with Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift. The Duke of Cambridge joined Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift on stage for a rendition of Livin' On A Prayer at a charity event. A star is born!

Been a pretty quiet day apart from having my neck stabbed and sliced and stitched. Actually, the wound bled a little earlier so I got Lindsay to stick a bandaid over the leaky bit. And now, dear Breth, it's time to say fare thee well for another day. Thanks to the Waffle contributors. Gary

November 26, 2013. Afore I fergit, here's a link to a short documentary about Perth, Western Oz, made in 1954 when I was just 10. Cool to see all those old cars and steam trains and the way life back then. I even spotted a Morris Oxford like my first car but only briefly.

TX Greg informs me that the video about the airplane placing its nose wheel in the tray of a pickup was an ad for Nissan: You do know that was only a commercial for Nissan with the plane landing, all computer generated...

Ah! Reminds me of the time I had to read a passage from Wind in the Willows aloud in class and I pronounced the 't' in depot. Hehe. That confirmed everyone's suspicion that I was a dickhead.

Here's another one like it I think I've sent before, but I just love the little old lady in this one...

That was great, Greg. Thanks for the link. However, the pic below was taken in 1962 (published in Life magazine) before computers so it's real. Real horsepower. A Missouri garage mechanic was trying to fix a generator as a neighbor, passing by on horseback, decided to help out. Rather than tie the horse to a bowser and disrupt business, he held onto it. That's when another neighbor with a camera stopped by as well. You could believe what you saw back in those days. 

Here's a pic of a '58 Customline in Taree I shot back in 2008. Very noice.

Our brief hail storm yesterday brought back memories for NC Art: If that photo is one you snapped after the hail storm, it’s a goodie. Cool, understated high drama or some such rot. And yessir, hail can be bloody destructive. While I was at university, all the glass was cleaned out of west facing dormitory windows by monster stones. Luckily my room was on the east side.

Not so lucky a few years later in my home town. On a Sunday afternoon I was leaving after a visit to my brother across town. We heard noise building like that of an approaching squadron of bombers. We ducked into the house as hailstones cleared one side of his home of all glass and ruined the hood of my ’47 Studebaker. I headed home, arriving just in time for a follow-up storm to batter the rear end of the car, and all the glass on one side of my rented two storey house. Stones the size of baseballs can do a rum job on man-made creations. Couldn’t stand to look at the car, and sold it for junk.

Yep, I took that hail photo just as the storm began to ease. Hail can be a worry for motorists and homeowners but even more so for farmers who grow crops. I've heard a few stories about hail storms damaging fruit and/or shredding grain. Controlling pests like locusts and worrying about drought can be bad enough but when a skyful of hail gets dumped on your paddocks in minutes, destroying a whole year's work, it's heartbreaking.

One thing I've learned about living in rural areas is you never say "beautiful weather" on a sunny day if the locals are praying for rain. Actually, I was thinking this morning about city slickers who think getting back to nature is going for a walk in the park. My mother as a girl lived at Liverpool, now a satellite city of Sydney, when it was bush and market gardens. She walked a couple of miles through bush to school each day. She rode horses too. When I was a kid, we used to visit relatives at Liverpool who owned 50 acres (pigs and a few cows). To own 50 acres in Liverpool these days you'd need to be a billionaire. My, my, how times have changed.

From the Beeb: Syrian peace talks planned for January are the "best opportunity" to form a transitional government, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said. He was speaking shortly after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that Syria's government and opposition would meet on 22 January in Geneva. The UN, US and Russia have been trying for months to get both sides to agree a political solution to the conflict. Diplomacy - the weapon of the 21st century. Let's hope so.

The gunman who killed 26 people at a Connecticut school last year had "an obsession" with the 1999 Columbine massacre, an official report has found. Police said there was evidence Adam Lanza, 20, had planned the shooting, which took fewer than 11 minutes. Trying to make sense of a senseless act.

A computer program is trying to learn common sense by analysing images 24 hours a day. The aim is to see if computers can learn, in the same way a human would, what links images, to help them better understand the visual world. The Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL) program is being run at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States. I hope it has better luck than many human beings. Hehe.

Interesting, yes? The Bible tells us that God made man in his likeness. And now we have Man making robots in his "likeness" (as in artificial intelligence). The other day I was thinking about the suffragettes, women's lib and feminism, and how today's women are demanding equal rights, etc. There was a time when it made sense for a man to be the breadwinner and head of the household, and for a woman to take care of the domestics and the kids. But then man, being the clever little dick that he is, started tinkering around in the shed and building labor saving devices for his missus. During the 20th century, household appliances like washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, food processors, etc, gave mom more time for leisure. Having access to a car and a local supermarket meant shopping took less time. The girls were getting a taste of freedom and independence, thanks to the old man's fetish for building things that made mom's life easier. And what happened? The missus rebeled hehe. She became better educated. She wanted more independence. She became ambitious. She wanted to swap the apron strings for a career. Then she wanted equal pay and equal opportunity! And who's to blame? Go figure.

It wasn't women who invented steam engines or internal combustion engines or washing machines or vacuum cleaners. No. It was the blokes. There they were, boss of the house, with a woman willing to do all the hard yakka free of charge, living the life of Riley, when the bloody fools started inventing machines that would eventually lead to their own downfall! Dumb buggers.

And now they're doing the same thing with robots. Sooner or later, artificial intelligence will make biological intelligence redundant and human beings will go the way of the dinos. See ya later, sayonara, bon voyage, kaputski.

Have you had a bad experience working for a woman boss? I've had a few. Mind you, I've had a few working for blokes as well. I was in my early 20s when I told my first woman boss to take a ride on a broom to the moon. 20 years later I worked at a radio station with a woman who was the program director. She wasn't strictly my boss but she didn't like me for some reason and would have happily fired me if she'd been able. Then I worked with two women in television productions and they were both tyrants. Oh yes, and one woman who was head of some government department in Canberra for which I did some freelance writing. She used to refer to me (behind my back) as "that man". Hehe. Maybe I just don't like bosses period. One told me I had a chip on my shoulder, another accused me of being obstreperous (except he pronounced it opstropolous) and another told me never to darken his doorstep again.

I've heard it said that after marriage, a woman will test her husband's resolve by nagging. If he buckles and creates a power vacuum, she'll fill it, lose respect for him and make the rest of his life a misery. Hen-pecked husband, yes? Happens all the time. But I think that kind of competition happens in all relationships, not just marriage. Even a dog will test its master in order to satisfy itself that it knows its place. All my life, with few exceptions, I've made the mistake of being too easy going and had people take advantage as a result.

When I volunteered to do Averil's shopping after Kev died, she was incredibly grateful, and even a little embarrassed. Then, after a year or two, it became routine and was expected. If I bought the wrong brand or whatever she'd order me to take it back hehe. Then she'd point to her shopping list just to prove that it was my fault. Luckily, I was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer which gave me an excuse to quit.

Yep, give an inch and they'll take a mile, dear Breth. It's the way it goes. And that's why sport is part of the school curriculum. Sport teaches defense and how to take advantage of situations. If the other guy loses that's his problem. Your job is to win at all costs.

Hmmm. a day for thinking aloud. Dear Diary, yadda, yadda, yadda... I was gonna do a few things today but had to stay home in case the courier arrived to collect the Willebrant print. No show. No phone call either. Forgive them Father for they know not how irresponsible they are. Bleh. Anyway, that's it until tomorrow. Gary

November 25, 2013. NC Art has been observing Antipodean habits with interesting results: On Saturday I spent considerable time on things Australian. First off, a golf tournament in Melbourne called the World Cup of Golf. Last score noted had Australia leading and USA in second place. Time difference prevented waiting all night for the final. Interesting that a gang of Aussie thugs sporting yellow shirts occasionally broke into raucous vocalizing for some reason known only to heaven and the bawlers.

Yes, Jason Day took the honors, I'm afraid, and his yellow-shirted thugs were there to vocalize their support. Hehe. We love to upset the Yanks and the Poms. The Aussie cricket team made a mess of the Poms during the first Ashes test last week. It's the convict genes ya know. No decorum.

Next, web-surfing for other Aussie Oddities I hit on a discussion site called AussieIssues. Again, odd. The subject featured concerned gay teens in desperate search for others o’ that ilk. Unrequited love anguish spilled through postings like a tsunami. One wag strongly suggested that this horrid segment of humanity should be eradicated by any means necessary. But … he added, “just kidding.” One poster advised moving to Sydney as the capital city of gay/bi Aussie population.

Well, it sure ain't Taree I can tell ya that! According to Lindsay, Taree is fulla macho blokes who don't use toilet seats. 

I still have much to learn about that strange society Down Under. One 14 year old described himself as a ‘bottom’ which gave me a mental image which may not be warranted. Ah well and hehe.

Reminds me of one unkind reference to Australia as "the arse end of the world".

I'm not sure there's such a thing as Aussie culture - unless you include things like beaches, backyard barbeques, drinking far too much, football and cricket and a laidback attitude bordering on apathy. No worries, mate. Maybe it's not something Aussies can recognize because we're too close to it. I've heard lots of immigrants, including Americans, who say they love Australia as well as Australians, so perhaps it's something discernable from another perspective. Like Art's.

On the other hand, The Tragic But True Tale of Trevor's Trapped Testicle comes pretty close to epitomizing Australian culcha.

Now here's something I've not seen before. An aircraft coming in to land with a faulty nose-wheel when a pickup truck came to the rescue. Amazing stuff!

Now what's all this fuss about the 50th anniversary of Dr Who? Are you a fan? Seems like there's a legion of fans from all over the world. I remember seeing a couple of episodes years ago when it was a cheap, amateurish BBC production with terrible sets and even worse acting - a show for kids telecast of an afternoon. I thought it was dreadful then and I think it's dreadful now. I could never see the point of it. I watched the current Dr Who interviewed one time and he seemed a nice enough chap. He was plucked from acting obscurity because of his role and is now quite famous. Last night, a special 50th anniversary episode was shown on telly so I watched about 10 minutes thinking I must have been wrong about it all these years. Nope. So I turned it off again. Can anyone explain to me what on earth it is about Dr Who that fans find so riveting? Maybe my lack of enthusiasm has something to do with my not being a fan of Star Trek either. Beam schmeam.

A rather sombre and melancholy Lindsay has just left to walk down to W.T. Howard Funerals where he'll hitch a ride in the hearse with Sue's body to the crematorium at Pampoolah. I suppose the memories of more recent times - the sickness, the falls, the tears, the dementia, the frustration and pain - will fade in favor of more distant memories of happier times - of courting, of marriage, of trips to England and of times shared with friends. Those will be the memories he chooses to cherish as he bids farewell to "my darling Susie".

Well, this is probably not an appropriate time to mention the arrival of my two under tray tool boxes but I will anyway. As soon as Andrew makes the battery isolator detachable, I'll get the boxes fitted by Jason.

Lindsay's back. The cremation hasn't happened yet. They can only do one at a time at Pampoolah so Sue is with two other bodies waiting their turn. After each cremation, the combustion chamber is cleaned of all ash and debris before the next cremation occurs. Sue's ashes in the urn will be available to Lindsay in about 2 weeks. But, as he said, he had his time with Sue to say his goodbyes. He also said Pampoolah is a beautiful place, with gardens, kangaroos, possums, a large lake and, of course, burial plots for ashes. He said if Sue's weren't destined for England, he'd be quite happy to bury them there. Anyway, his experience this afternoon, it seems. wasn't so traumatic after all.

10 minutes ago, the sky went black as pitch and the birds fled. Storm coming! Then it hit with a wild wind and heavy rain - and hail. Didn't last very long - maybe 5 minutes. There have been quite a lot of fierce thunderstorms all along the east coast lately. There was even a small tornado in a country town recently that demolished a couple of houses and scared the living daylights out of the occupants. It's still raining here a little but it's settled down a lot. At the height of the storm, a motor cyclist rode past. Poor bugger. Visibility was almost zilch.

Luckily, the hail was small so I don't think it would have damaged PJ or the solar panel. Judging by the pockmarks on PJ's cladding, she's survived much worse than that. But it sure made a bloody racket on the veranda's metal roof!

And that's it for today's Waffle Ls & Gs - with a bit of excitement to liven things up a tad. Gary

November 24, 2013. Steve W wrote: "I never watch cricket. Never, never, never." I was taken aback (not sure what that means, but I surely was!).

I was born in England and used to listen to cricket on the radio at the age of 6, broadcast from the Sydney Cricket Ground and dreamed of the day I could be there to see it in person. I have lived that dream.

My Dear Man, cricket is not simply a game………it reflects the best and worst of human nature, emotions, strategy and absolute desire to beat the living crap out of the opposition! I had the good fortune to have lunch with Dennis Lillie about 20 years ago and I asked him about the passion - he said as a bowler  "I want to hurt the batsman, I want to see them bleed" . So there ya go…who could not love a game like that!

Ah yes, took me a long time to understand my lack of interest in sport. It's not so much interest I lack, but the killer instinct. My mother thought it was because I was a wuss. My peers thought it was because I was a nerd. I would have made a lousy soldier.

TX Greg wrote: The news of Sue was quite a shock. I guess we've all known of her mental state, just didn't think her physical health was in that decline.

It happens time and time again. A frail person has a serious fall and needs an operation. From that point onwards, it's downhill at full speed. As to death coming as a shock, even when it's expected it's still a shock because of its finality. Lindsay is dreading tomorrow's cremation. That will be "final closure" as they say.

"Aus gallon" ???  Geez NO wonder everyone got confused over your gas mileage. I thought you converted it to US so WE could relate. So why do you still use the British imperial "gallon" if you're on the metric system?

I wasn't sure which version we used, Imperial or US. Actually, we don't "still use" Imperial measurements. It's only because I was brought up with the old system that I still refer to it. It took me forever to get my head around km/h and liters and meters and grams. I still prefer feet and inches and stones (1 stone = 14 pounds). 5' 11" and 11 stone, that's me (although not at the mo). I can relate better to miles per gallon too.

The Courier's tray is umpteen millimeters. Bugger that. To me it's 8ft x 6ft, and PJ is 11' 7" long.

Reminds me of the movie "Freefall: Flight 174". Based on a true story about a new 767 "the first aircraft delivered to Air Canada to measure fuel in kilograms rather than pounds". The fuel truck (or in-ground system) at Montreal measured fuel in litres, which then had to be converted into kilograms for the flight management system on board the aircraft. The fateful mistake was that the pilots and ground crew used the wrong conversion factor, and converted litres into pounds (a pound is just less than half a kilogram). Therefore, the 767 left Montreal with just less than half the fuel needed to reach Edmonton."

That REALLY gives new meaning to, "measure twice, cut once", hehe.

And there ya go, just to confuse the issue a little further, I use the American spelling 'liter' rather that the Oz spelling, 'litre'. Ditto with 'meter' and 'metre'.

Got an email from the new owner of my little house in Glebe asking for the photographs I took back in the early '80s. Funny to see 15 Hegarty St Glebe in the subject line. Nothing will ever replace my affection and fondness for that place. However, it will be interesting to see how PJ measures up after a year or two on the road.

Perfect weather today! Absolutely stunning!

From the Beeb: Iran and six world powers meeting in Geneva have reached a deal on Tehran's nuclear programme, foreign ministers say. No details have been released about the agreement, which has been reached after five days of negotiations.

Fifteen airlines have been warned about the risk of ice forming on Boeing's new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes. The issue - affecting some types of engines made by General Electric when planes fly near high-level thunderstorms - prompted Japan Airlines to cancel two international routes. There have been six incidents since April when aircraft powered by GE engines lost power at high altitude. These are the latest technical issues to hit the Dreamliner.

What's new in technology at the Tokyo Motor Show? Well, for me, not a lot to get excited about. I'm a bit old fashioned, it seems. However, I am fascinated by the prospect of hydrogen powered cars... and more particularly, lawn mowers and whipper snippers. Imagine weekend mornings without that bloody racket!

I watched an interview last night with Dr Karl, Australian cab driver turned scientist. Born in Sweden of Polish parents who survived the holocaust, his  family emmigrated to Oz and settled in Wollongong (south of Sydney). Karl was bullied all the way through school for being "different" - a nerd - and eventually became a medical doctor. But you can read all about the amazing Dr Karl (his second name is unpronounceable - Kruszelnicki) on his blog, where he discusses important issues such as Belly Button lint in men - where does it come from and why is it blue?

Remember Dr Julius Sumner Miller and "Why is it so?" Miller had a knack of communicating science and physics to ordinary people and making it entertaining. Dr Karl has the same knack, and is officially one of Australia's 100 Living Treasures. Whenever the announcer gives out the phone number for Karl Kruszelnicki's famous Science Talkback show on Triple J, on Thursday mornings - so many calls come in that the ABC switchboard crashes!

Well, the Townsend print didn't sell at auction #2 so I won't bother again. A courier arrives tomorrow to collect the Willebrant. 

If you're interested in fuel economy from the perspective of a road train driver, check out this post from a GN. I found it really interesting. He also refers to fuel in kilograms.

Gotta jet! Seeya! Gary

November 23, 2013. Sunny and blue. So what happened to the thunderstorms and hail? I hope they're not lurking somewhere. Meanwhile, the forecast for tomorrow and the rest of the week has been revised to mostly sunny and warm. Fine with me! <- that's a weather joke.

NC Art has weighed in again on the weights and measures thingy. <- that's a weights and measures joke. 

There are four quarts to the gallon.
There are 200 liters in a 55 gallon oil drum.
A drum can also be 30 gallons, usually for cleaning fluids, kerosene, etc.
One quart equals .94 liter approximately.
One liter equals 1.056688 quart.

Some of your informants seem to be from another planet.

While traveling through Canada I bought 4 “quarts” of motor oil for an oil change in a Model A Ford. I wound up with quite a bit left over because I was dealing with the imperial quart, roughly equivalent to one liter.

Almost as confusing as printers’ measures around the world, where there are at least four systems; none convertible exactly. Maybe that is why jumbled type is called the hell box.

Did you hear what Art said about you, Bill? He reckons you're from another planet hehe.

I just screwed the toilet roll holder back to the loo wall. Bit soon do you think? Sue's only been gone 2 days. She used to put her weight on it to lift herself off the toilet seat and no amount of reprimand would change her habit. I'd screw it back on and she'd tear it out again, time after time after time. So now it's back on and she's not here to undo my handiwork.

And it's goodbye to blue sky already. The dark clouds are coming in from the west, sneaky buggers. But they'll be gone again by late this arvo so the meteorologists say and Gary will be able to go outside an play again. "Go outside and play" was my mother's version of "piss off".

Averil just phoned to catch up with the latest goss about Sue and the arrangments hehe. She wanted to know if I would attend the cremation and I told her I'd bring the matches. Nah. I won't be there. I've since learned the reason Lindsay is taking the ashes back to England. It's so they can be buried in the family plot next to her father (and mother when the time comes). So there'll be a formal funeral with Mum and siblings in attendance, which is a nice gesture and one they all appreciate. Funny about that. England and Australia are currently playing for the ashes (cricket) in Oz.

Wikipedia:The term originated in a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, immediately after Australia's 1882 victory at The Oval, their first Test win on English soil. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.[1] The mythical ashes immediately became associated with the 1882–83 series played in Australia, before which the English captain Ivo Bligh had vowed to "regain those ashes". The English media therefore dubbed the tour the quest to regain the Ashes.

From the Beeb: The US has been marking 50 years since President John F Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullet in Dallas, Texas. The city, which long struggled with the legacy of the assassination, is hosting a series of official events. Kennedy, who served less than three years, is often ranked among the nation's most revered presidents. Just 46 when he died, he is praised for his youthful vigour, his leadership through the Cuban missile crisis and his vision to put a man on the Moon. His death shocked the world as much as did 9/11.

JFK anniversary: The myth and reality: The assassination of John F Kennedy means that we all get to decide how his story should have ended, and thus plot an alternative trajectory for the country he so fleetingly led. The events in Dallas exactly 50 years ago made JFK as much a myth as a man, one of history's most endlessly malleable figures. Nick Bryant writes a thought provoking article.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Geneva to help negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. The foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany are also on their way there, amid hopes of an agreement that would see Iran curb uranium enrichment in return for a loosening of sanctions. The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran are already at the Geneva conference, which began on Wednesday.

I never watch cricket. Never, never, never. Or listen to it on the radio. Until now. Hehe. Oz is doing well in the Ashes test and I had the radio on in the bathroom as I shaved. Aussie batsman David Warner was on 99 runs and the commentators were talking about how much psychological pressure that placed on the player. They said the two worst situations to be in were on zero at the start of an innings and on 99. Yeah, I can believe it. England closed ranks, determined to rob Warner of his century in Test Cricket. The atmosphere at the stadium was electric with anticipation. Two or three bowls by the English bowler went through without incident but one only missed the stumps "by a coat of varnish". And then came the ball that would see the scoreboard change from 99 to three digits. The crowd went totally ballistic, and Warner saluted them with his bat and helmet like a victorious gladiator. Nail biting stuff, even for a non-sporting type like me.

You're not gonna believe this one. How Not to Instagram.

Well, there goes a pretty uneventful Satdee. I admit, re-attaching the toilet roll holder in the loo was a major highlight but other than that, it's been pretty ho hum. In a few weeks, I hope to take off on my next shakedown. It's getting pretty close to peak holiday season though, so I'm not sure about availability. I'll have to do a bit of research. Gary

November 22, 2013. Finally got around to assembling the photos Francois sent into an album. He says maybe I'll shoot something as beautiful on the Odyssey. Hmmm. Dunno about that. These are truly spectacular. Click on the first thumb to enlarge, and then on the right side of each image to move to the next.

Alcoholic dementia is the official cause of death according to Sue's death certificate. Steve W wrote: My condolences to Lindsay and yourself. It may be a blessing but sad all the same. I feel that I sort of knew her just a bit through your blog. 

I suspect it would have been a lot sadder had she continued in that vegetative state. The person we knew had already gone. Even ten years ago when the doc made one of his regular visits she was on the decline. He asked her how old she was and she didn't know. Then he asked if she knew the address of this house and she didn't know that either. Way back in 2000 when Lindsay overdosed on his medication, and was crawling around on the floor on his knees and elbows asking for help, she came out of the bedroom and stepped over him on her way to the loo. She had no idea what was going on. Lindsay doesn't remember that event either. He spent a week in hospital after having his stomach pumped.

For me now, I have freedom. No longer do I have to worry about Sue getting up to mischief or wanting to go to the loo when Lindsay goes out. Being here alone with Sue worried me silly. I couldn't shop, shower, fiddle with PJ in the backyard or do anything that might cause me to be absent if she woke. Every little sound made me jump. Lindsay's attitude was "she'll be right, she's asleep". Yeah, right. Anyway, that's all over now. 

Just had an email from Lotto to say I had a winning ticket. Without glasses the $13 looked a bit like 413 and I thought woohoo! Hehe. Oh well... another day perhaps.

Just phoned Andrew the Sparky about the battery isolator thingy and how to disconnect it before the camper is lifted off the tray, which is what Jason will need to do when he installs the tool boxes (I think). So Andrew is gonna install something like a heavy duty Anderson plug which will allow the wiring to be plugged and unplugged. Too easy. Next!

Magnetic Bill (that's the name of the island he lives on - nothing to do with his personality) wrote: I was reading your blog, and I think your US mate doesn't understand that a US gallon is 4 liters, and an Aus gallon is 4.5 liters.   4.5x8 =36, and 36klms divided by .621 (a klm is .621 of a mile)  is 22.356 Miles per Aus gallon. 4 ltrs (US gallon) is 19.58mpg. I hope your US mate doesn't mind. I make a lot of calculations as a marine engineer. See you soon, Bill

Nah, the Yanks are pretty cool about us Aussies being smarter, Bill. Hehe. And thanks for setting the record straight.

Think of the 44 gallon drum -it's 200ltrs in OZ.  200 divided by 44 is 4.5. They have 40 US gallon drums in the US , which are 160 ltrs, and 40 x4 ltrs (US GALS) is 160 ltrs. Bill

Roite. But does it taste the same?

Another thunderstorm and I'm having trouble connecting so I guess a bolt of lightning somewhere buggered the works. Ditto weather tomorrow and Sunday. Bleh.

Here's a great story about the Pastor's Ass, with a wonderful moral.

From the Beeb: The US has said a new post-2014 security deal with Afghanistan should be signed by the end of the year - conflicting with earlier comments from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The US said it was neither "practical nor possible" to delay the signing. As a gathering of Afghan elders debated the pact, Mr Karzai said it would not be signed until after 2014 elections. The deal may see 15,000 foreign troops remain, although the US says it has not yet taken a decision on any presence.

The US state of Alabama has granted posthumous pardons to three black teenagers wrongly accused of raping two white girls on a train in 1931. Treatment of the youths known as the Scottsboro Boys - nine in all - helped spark the US Civil Rights movement. The boys were convicted by all-white juries. The bad, bad, bad old days.

Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that the democratic nature of the net is threatened by a "growing tide of surveillance and censorship". The warning came as he launched his World Wide Web Foundation's annual web index report, tracking global censorship. It suggests that 94% of the countries in the index do not adequately monitor government internet interception

The Shoalhaven Council on the South Coast of NSW, which is beautiful country both along the coast and further inland, has woken up to the fact that $6 billion annually makes its way in caravans and motorhomes from Victoria and Southern NSW up to Queensland, bypassing much of the Shoalhaven shire because there are too few places to park and camp as well as too few RV friendly towns. Oops! So they've decided to reverse the situation by providing more free facilities to attract the nomads and keep them in the area for a while.

Caravan parks usually kick up a stink about the provision of free or low-cost camps arguing that they take business away. How can you take business away from parks that are full of permanents or fully booked? Many (if not most) GNs have self-contained rigs and have no need of the facilities caravan parks offer, especially kids playgrounds. Besides, who wants to be packed in like a can of sardines?

On line forums like Grey Nomads are getting the message across to business communities in small towns that being RV friendly is good for business. Non-RV friendly towns miss out on the bucks. It may even get to a stage where towns actually compete for RV business. How cool would that be?

Meanwhile, today is not the ideal day to be camping. Too wet. At least the grass is loving it, and the farmers of course. And don't forget, tomorrow is hug a dumbass day. Till then, it's hooroo from me and ta ta from him. Gary

November 21, 2013. Sue DeVille-Hines, March 13, 1954 - November 21, 2013.

I heard the phone ring twice during the night. Lindsay answered the second time. Then he left the house. It was 3am. I figured Sue had passed away at the nursing home. I last saw her yesterday morning before she left. She was dozing in the wheelchair and looked empty, completely devoid of her former self, a shell. She passed away at 2.30 this morning in her sleep. That photograph was taken in 2002 here in Taree. She was unwell then too but still knew how to pose for the camera.

Lindsay is coping better than I'd anticipated. He has witnessed her physical and mental demise for many years (they were married 31 years) and particularly lately. After her last serious fall and operation on her femur a few months ago, she deteriorated rapidly. Her death has come as no surprise and, in a way, it's a blessing. In fact, the "real" Sue departed a long time ago. 

I went through my photo archives and put together a single montage of shots taken since arriving in Taree in 2001. I thought it would be nice for Lindsay to have a printed and framed keepsake. I also sent a copy to her sister and bro in law in England. Sue was 59.

So there ya go. Another candle in the wind. 

Just phoned Sowter Engineering. Peter's gone. He sold the biz to Jason, his employee, and it was Jason who did the bumectomy on PJ. Anyway, I just wanted to know if the biz is closing for Christmas or whatever, and to book PJ in for the tool boxes, gas bottle door, entrance handle and awning wheel.

NC Art wrote: Dunno about the math issue with Bill-the-bloke, but if PJ gets the mileage claimed, the roads must be 90% downhill. Or maybe you got a magic engine? The rig just weighs too much.

TX Greg agrees: How did Bill come up with that mpg? I think your math is correct, as I get the same number. 20 liters (5.28344 gallons) for 160 kms (99.4194 miles). 99.4 divided by 5.3 = 18.8 mpg

From the Beeb: An assembly of more than 2,000 Afghan elders is due to discuss the text of a long-awaited bilateral security agreement with the US. The deal to be debated at the Loya Jirga will determine the presence of US troops in the country after 2014. A draft reportedly says the Afghan government concedes that US troops will be subject to US justice rather than local courts. This issue has been a key stumbling block in talks between the two sides. Washington has said that all its troops would be withdrawn if no legal immunity is agreed.

Japanese carmaker Toyota has said it is looking to start commercial sales of fuel cell-powered cars by 2015. Toyota set the target as it unveiled a concept fuel cell powered car, called the FCV, at the Tokyo Motor Show. Its cells can be recharged within minutes and it can cover about 500km (300 miles) on a single charge, according to the firm. Earlier this week, rival Hyundai said it plans to start mass production of such cars as early as next year. The technology uses hydrogen to generate electricity to power the engine and the waste products are heat and harmless water. At the same time, fuel cells charge much faster and travel a longer distance after being charged, compared with battery-operated electric cars.

R2-D2 is to make an appearance in the next outing of Star Wars, makers LucasFilm have confirmed. The squat, squeaking android is being created at Pinewood Studios by two British men who are members of a Star Wars robot-building group. Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples say they feel "very privileged" to be working on the film. Star Wars: Episode VII is currently in pre-production and filming is due to begin in the spring. I haven't even seen the first one yet!

It's late afternoon now and Lindsay's been busy organizing this and that. He's very matter of fact about it all. No emotion. Not a single tear all day. His disability pension will now rise to equal the age pension. He will receive a bereavement allowance of $3K+ to cover funeral costs. Actually, there won't be a funeral. Sue's body will be cremated on Monday at a cost of about $3.5K. Lindsay visited the funeral parlor (where Sue's remains are now - just down the road from here) and organized an urn for $250. He will bring the ashes here. Next February, he'll fly with the urn to England to "bring Sue home" to her relatives. Sending the urn by itself would be heaps cheaper, and he's never really been considered "family" by Sue's sister or mother, so methinks he wants to remind everyone of what a loyal and dedicated husband he's been in order to ensure his inclusion in Mum's will. She's 90+.

So far, Lindsay hasn't contacted Sue's rellos. He tells me what's going on and leaves it to me to email the news. Sue's sister was quite peeved when the news of Sue's passing came from me via email rather than Lindsay directly. They plan to tell Mum tomorrow in person. Meanwhile, I'll send another email to let them know of the cremation and Lindsay's plan to take her remains to England.

Right now he's watching Gunsmoke on telly.

Yes, dear Breth, knowing those two has been quite an experience, to put it mildly, and not without more than its fair share of high drama. They were my meal ticket for 10 years as their carer and in return I organized a decent roof over their heads, gave them financial independence and sobered them up. When our GP first saw them 12 years ago, he couldn't believe the state they were in. He confided to me later that, at the time, he thought they were both at death's door. He congratulated me on a job well done. 

Well, whatever the reason Fate steered me in that particular direction, it's no longer relevant. Time to move on. Gary

November 20, 2013. Surprise, surprise! Lindsay just announced that Sue's going back to Wingham Court permanently. They just left in a wheelchair taxi. "I just can't do it," he said. As to home care assistance with showering, etc, there's a long waiting list. So, as much as he'd like to have Sue here he's learned the hard way that caring for someone with advanced dementia as well as other serious medical issues is an extraordinarily demanding task, up with which he's unable to put.

So what happens now? Will he move out? Probably not. He likes this place and he sure as hell won't find anything cheaper on his own (unless it's a dump).

Meanwhile, I splurged on two under tray tool boxes just now - $169 including delivery. And, being a worry wart, I sank PJ's rear wheels in the gutter of the drive to check the clearance between the rear of the deck and the road. All's well.

It was the usual Hoovering and bone-picking routine at Nancy's this morning except for a little prezzie - a pink container (with matching spoon) of home-made coconut dessert. She's desperate to fatten me up. So how about that? How many patients have a dentist who cooks for them? I also discovered that Nancy is a SCUBA diver. She has a Nikon like mine with underwater housing and flash attachment. Talented girl, what?

After my little chat yesterday about journalists using drones, TX Greg wrote: Speaking of drones, what do you do if you're out in the middle of the outback and want to order pizza, call Dominos hahaha...

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has urged US senators to hold off from proposing more sanctions against Iran to allow time for world powers to complete a deal on Iran's nuclear programme. A White House spokesman warned that if a deal with Tehran was not agreed, Iran would continue enriching uranium.

Scorpions and grasshoppers can now be found on the menus of upscale French restaurants, just as those concerned about the world's increasing demand for protein are looking to insects as one solution. Of course, the French would use a fancy word - entomophagy - when it's insect-eating to you and me. I'm still trying to come to terms with snails and frog legs.

They are two of the most important dates in American history - and they are just days apart. Tuesday 19 November marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln as he tried to bring together a divided nation during the US civil war. On Friday, 22 November it will be 50 years since President John F Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas. Although they occupied the White House a century apart, the two men both sought to use the power of federal government to impose change on conservative states - and made fierce enemies as a result. BBC Newsnight's Allan Little looks back at two defining moments for the US and asks what history can tell us about the divided country President Obama presides over today.

"Selfie" has been named as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries. The word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph, the editors said. Research suggested its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the last year, they added.

Here's a bit of good news from Bill, the bloke with a similar rig to mine: You got the math wrong-8klms per ltr is 22.36mpg. It will get better after you tune the motor. Bill

Here's an interesting thread on the GN forum that deals with life on the road, house ownership, making new friends, etc. One of the commenters has posted some great photos as well.

Well, tomorrow is all mine, mine, mine. No dentists, no doctors, no whatevers. Mine, mine, mine! BTW, that lamb last night was terrible - sooooo much fat! So I threw the bloody lot down the loo and flushed it. Then I bought some lean ground steak today and a jar of blackbean sauce. Gary

November 19, 2013. Doctor knows best, roite? I saw my GP this morning and mentioned statins. He said despite the negative publicity recently, they have been proven to prevent a second heart attack in patients who have already suffered one. So, given I wasn't too thrilled about the first one, I think I better take the doc's advice and keep taking them. He also checked the area of my last skin cancer op on my neck and admitted he didn't get all the cancer so I'm booked in for a clean-up next week at no charge. AND I gave him his new calendar for next year. He saves them ya know. He's still got every calendar I've given him since I started 4 or 5 years ago. Prolly thinks I'll be famous after I cark it.

Aussie tourists overseas have often been asked by locals if kangaroos really do wander down Pitt Street in Sydney. But they never ask about emus. This is not Sydney but Longreach, the birthplace of Qantas.

The new Mini III has been launched. Not all that visually different to the previous model(s) but light years ahead of the little car designed by Alec Issigonis that debuted back in 1959. I had a brochure of the Mini pinned to my bedroom wardrobe and my heart was set on buying one as soon as I could afford it. But a '51 Morris Oxford got in the way. I did however own a Mini 1100 in 1975 and loved it, including "that annoyingly addictive go-kart feel". Check out what the latest Mini has to offer.

I meant to mention yesterday that Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 80th birthday, first appearing on screen in 1933 in Steamboat Willy. That makes Mickey eight years NC Art's junior. Apart from that, Mickey's voice hasn't broken yet. BTW, Sydney's iconic Harbor Bridge is one year older than Mickey at 81.

While I was in the bathroom scraping the face, I heard an interview on the radio with a journalist who is the first Australian journo to be licenced to operate a drone fitted with a camera in the course of his work. It took 3 years to get the licence, which included getting a proper pilot's licence. The drone is something like those mini helicopters you see in toy stores but far more sophisticated - fully programmable and GPS equipped. Expensive, but a fraction of the cost of hiring a chopper and pilot. He was saying it's only 30 odd years ago that his job required a portable typewriter on the back seat of the car, a photographer as his passenger, and a pocket full of coins in case he used a public pay phone to call the office with his story. These days, a journo has to be proficient with a laptop computer, digital camera, video editing, posting material on the internet and all the jobs it took several people to perform just a few decades ago. Whoosh!

Yes, I remember well the IBM Golfball electric typewriter I used in the early to mid eighties, as well as the old Remington manual office typewriter (with extra long carriage) I had at home. It weighed a ton!

I just had the most amazing phone call! A woman called and asked for a Mr or Mrs Kelly. So we both repeated "Kelly" several times and then I explained that I couldn't pronounce it properly cos I had no teeth. "Neither have I," she said, and burst out laughing, which got me laughing. Then I told her they took the tip of my tongue as well which made it even worse cos I couldn't reach the roof of my mouth for the 'L' sound. "Anyway, what's with this Mr or Mrs business?" I asked. "There is no Mrs. But, if you like, I could throw on a frock." She laughed at that too - a most infectious laugh - and then said in her case there was no Mr. "We could get together and discuss what we've been missing," she suggested. Well, that cracked us both up for at least a minute. When we recovered, she got down to business and asked if I'd thought about solar for the roof. And I said yes, referring to PJ. Then for some reason she asked how old I was, and I said 69. "And how old were you when you had the solar installed?" "I was 69 then too... I've been 69 for years!" So we both cracked up again, and then she said, "Well, I've been 68 for years!" When I mentioned I was referring to my camper and not the house, and that I was a renter, she quickly realized I wasn't a potential customer and bade me farewell. A very funny lady indeed.

The call was probably recorded so I reckon it'll do the rounds of the office.

A few minutes ago I was in the kitchen preparing tonight's lamb stir fry with black bean sauce when I heard an approaching ambulance siren. Then the little kid from two houses down catapulted out of the driveway and sprinted up the street to the corner to catch a glimpse of the passing ambo. Seconds later he was running back home at full speed. My stomach churned at the thought of those agile bare feet being pounded against hard concrete. I imagined how my fragile skin would react to such harsh treatment, forgetting I did the same thing as a kid. My soles were like shoe leather back then. Meanwhile, it wouldn't surprise me if this little bloke is a champion runner at school. Jeez, he was quick!

Here's an interesting shot of a couple of lifesavers doing CPR. The main interest is on the one on the right.

And here's an unusual pic of a mounted policeman.

AND... here are some of the most sensible home remedies you'll ever read.

Time to catch up with a bit of telly and to try the lamb blackbean. Gary

November 18, 2013. Well, whaddaya know... as soon as I entered the drive, it started to rain and thunder. Not bad timing, no? The trip up to Port Mac and back was smooth and trouble free. PJ rolled along nicely, mostly in 5th gear averaging 80km/h. I filled up again in Taree - 20 liters for 160 kms, which is about half the fuel I used for the same distance around town. Roughly, that gives me 8 kms per liter (12.5 liters per 100 kms) or about 18 mpg highway cycle. Not bad for a 2.3 tonne rig and more or less what I expected. I'll have the engine tuned next service anyway.

The oncologist seems pretty happy with my progress given "what we did to you" hehe. When he referred to the initial operation and subsequent radiation he used words to describe my situation as being almost at death's door. Sheesh. I knew it wasn't a head cold but never really gave much thought to how serious it was. It was just something I had to endure so I did. The doc and his understudy both think I'm a pretty positive chap. I'm due to see them again next May and that'll be it... provided nothing untoward happens in the meantime. BTW, the little lesion Nancy noted and asked the doc to check is probably the result of the initial operation - like a scar - and nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, he'll contact the specialist in Sydney to have him check it and perhaps take a biopsy when I see him early February.

I gave Nancy her new calendar this morning and she was duly impressed. She gave my mouth a nice little cleanup for the doc in Port Mac. She made some yummies for me, which she'll give me on Wednesday. One is a trifle (I love trifle!). "Did you put sherry in it?" I asked. "Sherry! I can't give you sherry!" Hehe. How boring... a trifle without sherry. The other thing she made is a fruit jello thingy. "And it's nice and fattening!"

Speaking of calendars and pics and Red Bubble, the butterfly pic I took a while back, Jezebel, was awarded permanent feature status by an RB group. I've had a few monthly features but this is the first permanent. Woohoo!

Hmmm, this storm is getting a little serious. And noisy! There was a severe weather warning on the radio as I drove to Port Mac but it was for the Sydney and Hunter Valley regions - heavy rain, hail and strong winds. Sydney copped it again yesterday with power outages, trees down, and localized flooding. But I also heard on the news that the US has its own problems with tornadoes. There was another story about a storm in the US with tennis-ball size hail!

Wearing his entomologist hat, NC Art wrote: If you ever got a bite from fire ants you would exempt those buggers from your praise of ant society. Plus, some wag once wrote a humorous essay on the utter stupidity of the small critters. Observing two ants foraging for treasures to store away for winter he noted that the prize they found was a dried up grasshopper foot. Seizing it from opposite sides, they struggled an hour pulling in opposite directions. Finally agreeing to cooperate they set off to home with it, but forgetting which direction to go they wound up in a fight. The fight ended when one chewed the legs off the other and the victor hoisted his prize overhead, ignorant of the fact that the grasshopper foot weighed 100 times more than the ant. Finally, worn down and weary the ant gave up and raced away in a direction opposite of that toward the nest.

Now, when I recall my buddy at six years of age joining me in pissing on a caravan of ants in my back yard. I mean, what are little dudes to do when their little dicks need to drain the tank? Hehe.

I think we've had a few infestations of fire ants in Queensland, imported accidentally via ship cargo. They're dealt with pretty quickly and severely. We don't want those buggers getting a foothold. But we do have bull ants that can inflict a pretty nasty bite and sting to go with it. I was bitten on the ankle by a not so small black ant a few months ago in the backyard and the damn ache stayed with me for 12 hours or more.

On another subject—cars—a news journal called Sixty Minutes featured Lamborghini hand built play toys for billionaires. One chap paid $100,000 just to get an engine tuned to produce the perfect growl. The newsman drove one at 120 mph to see how it felt. Smoooth as silken stockings.

PJ is more like thick woollen socks but it'll do.

TX Greg wrote: I noticed that the guy that owns the Grand Villa has the GN user name "Mr B2", HAHAHAHAHA Yeah, I noticed too but didn't make the connection. Mine was in a past life. What was my original pseudonym? Hayworth-Jones or something. Hehe. Back then I thought you needed a posh name to be a writer. Now I realize you don't need posh anything. In fact, you don't even need to know how to write!

Francois also wrote and attached a number of very beautful photographs which I will use to make an album soon. Maybe you'll take more amazing pics in your odyssey. You never know, Francois! As the photographer on the Beeb story yesterday said, the more pictures you take, the better you get.

Here are a couple I took with the little Fuji through the windscreen as I drove home from Port Macquarie along the Pacific Highway.

That mountain in the third pic is North Brother. There are 3 of them, which all have Aboriginal cultural significance.

From the Beeb: Leading search engine companies Google and Microsoft have agreed measures to make it harder to find child abuse images online. As many as 100,000 search terms will now return no results that find illegal material, and will trigger warnings that child abuse imagery is illegal. UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had called for action from the firms, has welcomed the move. Reactive rather than proactive, as usual.

Australia's intelligence agencies spied on phone calls of the Indonesian president and close confidantes, leaked documents reportedly show. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first lady and Vice-President Boediono were reportedly amongst those targeted. The allegations came from documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden which were published by broadcaster ABC and the Guardian newspaper. Indonesia said Australia should "urgently" clarify the spying claims. I heard one bloke say the only reason Indonesia is not doing the same thing to us is because their surveillance gear is not as sophisticated hehe.

Powerful tornadoes have swept through the US Midwest, destroying buildings and overturning vehicles in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. At least five people were killed and it is feared that several hundred people may have been injured in the fast-moving storms. A number of people are said to be trapped inside buildings. Forecasters say up to 53 million people could be affected. Hailstones the size of tennis balls have been reported.

I mentioned a week or two ago that one of the GNs was in the Philippines when typhoon Haiyan struck. Today he posted an account of his experience as well as a little background. It's a fascinating read from the perspective of a "local" who knows the country, its people and, more importantly, its politics.

And you're not gonna believe this bloke and his rig. It's a travelling everything. I've never seen anything like it before. After the first few pics, you'll need to scroll down a little to reach the others - and there are lots of them all the way down.

So there ya go, quite a busy Monday with no dramas. Time to split so I'll catch you tomorrow. Gary

November 17, 2013. Spring in Oz is normally cool to mild in the southern regions which is why this pic is so extraordinary. Especially since we're just a few weeks away from summer.

Sydney copped violent storms and high winds yesterday, as well as flash flooding in some areas, so we got off pretty lightly up here on the mid north coast. But on the subject of motor bikes, FL Josh sent this link: 1st Place plus Motorcycle Stunt Driver, Grand Prix 2013

As a kid, I used a peg and a piece of cardboard stuck between the spokes to make a clattering noise as I pedaled furiously, hoping the noise would replicate the sound of a 'real' motorbike. Pretty dumb idea, right? Maybe so, but it seems nothing's changed these days except the technology. Josh found this video.

Roite. All pages of the Scrapbook are now fixed, with oversize photos brought into line. Next!

Mid afternoon today the auctions of my fine art prints will close, so that will be interesting. A few extra bob in the bank would be very nice indeed. I've been carting those prints around since I left Glebe in 1991 - Greenwich -> Canberra -> Queanbeyan -> Canberra -> Roseville -> Greenwich -> Dundas -> Petersham (3 times) -> Taree. What a mess!

I was thinking about ants this morning. Those things are really dedicated ya know. They live their entire lives for the good of their community, working day in and day out to keep the nest functioning. In ant society, there are no accolades for individuals who perform beyond the call of duty; no statues of famous ants or monuments dedicated to oustanding ant achievement ; no museums of ant history; no Academy of the Ants Awards. Ants are totally devoid of self-interest or personal ambition.

TX Greg has been digging around the video archives too, and found a couple worth watching. Here's a crazy stunt the GN's might like also. Want to see a couple of guys park a car inside a motorhome, hahaha...

Have you ever been to a demolition derby? You could call this fighting over the perfect campsite, hahaha

From the Beeb: No cameras were allowed to film at the royal christening but one man was invited to make a record of the event and that was the photographer Jason Bell. As well as the first official photographs of Prince George, his award winning work includes portraits of Sir Paul McCartney, David Beckham, Kate Winslet and Halle Berry. Here are his top ten tips for being a photographer

Thousands of people have turned out to help a five-year-old boy recovering from leukaemia to become a superhero for a day. Miles Scott participated in Batman themed events across the San Francisco thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation. His dad Nick Scott, praised the charity and everyone else who took part. I watched that on telly last night and thought it was great!

Sheesh! Right down to the wire and only 1 bid for the Willebrant print - $249, which was the reserve, and not a penny more. Oh well, that's okay - I'll get two under-tray tool boxes for that with change. Hmmm, I notice the successful bidder works in O'Connell St Sydney, the heart of the financial precinct. Prolly wants the print to tart up his flash office.

Not so fortunate with the Townsend print. No bidders. One of the drawbacks is living in Taree which is a long way from the major art market in Sydney and courier costs are high. I've relisted it anyway - auction starting at $99, buy it now $150.

How well do you know your cars?

Not a bad looking chariot. It's a Fiat Ghia Supersonic Berlinetta from 1954, about the same time the famous Mercedes Gull Wing was released. I'm not sure who pinched what from whom but that front end looks a little familiar, and so does that molding above the wheel arch. Nonetheless, that's a pretty sweet looking ride from the same mob that brought us the cute little Bambino. I was just 10 years old when that Fiat made its debut and I can tell you for sure I've not aged nearly as well. Not even remotely. It's enough to make a grown man weep.

Well, today has been a bitta this 'n' that - shopping, buggerizing around with auctions and waffling. At least I've ended up with a few more bob in the bank (or will when the buyer pays me). I'll be seeing Nancy at 8am tomorrow and later I'll drive to Port Mac to see the oncologist. Gary

November 16, 2013. I put a link on the GN forum to those pics that NC Art sent the other day - Grand and Amazing Sights - and the response has been very good. Check out the thread.

Late yesterday, I received an email from my ex neighbor in Glebe with a link to auction details and pics of the house next to mine in Hegarty St. When old Frank lived here, he and his wife slept in the front room. A "modern" brick fence had been installed probably during the 50s or 60s. The rear kitchen was original, as was the old tin laundry and bathroom out the back, and they still used the old loo at the bottom of the backyard. Whoever owns it now has done a great job of renovating the little house in readiness for auction. The reserve is $975,000. I remember Frank telling me he paid 400 quid ($800) for it not long after the war.

Sounds like a lotta money, which it is, but I paid $31,000 in 1978 which is 30+ times more than Frank paid in the late '40s/early '50s (he must've thought I was nuts). I sold it in 1991 for $165,000 which is 5+ times more than I paid for it, and now it's selling for a million which is 6+ times more than I sold it for. BTW, replacing the old kitchen and tin laundry/bathroom back in '82 cost me $12,000 hehe. The same thing today would cost hundreds of thousands. So it's all Monopoly money. I watched an auction the other day on telly for a basic 2-bed apartment in Ashfield, 6 miles from Sydney CBD, that sold for well over $600,000. The thing about Glebe's high prices, even for a shoebox with no off street parking, is that it's on Sydney CBD's doorstep. I used to walk to town.

So, folks, I didn't do so badly on the deal. I sold for 5x what I paid after 13 years but it took another 20+ years for the price to increase by that much again. In real estate, the key is position, position, position. Well, no worries about position with PJ. She'll have more positions than the Kamasutra.

FL Josh wrote: Playing catchup today on about 5 days worth of Waffles, and in them twice you linked to some old albums, and you posted a new album with some of NC Art's submissions.  It might be interesting to get some feedback from your readers as to whether they like the old album format or new one better.  I for one like the old one...

I downloaded (and paid for) the latest version of Jalbum a while ago but found some skins weren't working so I used one that did. It was all a bit confusing for a while but yesterday (coincidentally) I discovered how to download and update the skins that weren't working, one of which is Chameleon, the one Josh refers to as his preference. The plus with Chameleon is that each image in the album has its own URL which can be linked to, and which is not the case with the skin I've been using lately. So there ya go, all is well again. Or will be.

Josh also suggests I look for a spare tire at an auto salvage yard. Fair enough, but the bloke just down the road is where I've shopped for all my tires and batteries and he's always getting customers who fit a new set before the old set is worn, sometimes because they want special tires or a particular brand/type. Can't remember if it was TT or Bluey but one spare he sold me was practically brand new.

Boom, boom. Getting a bit of thunder today with gray skies and showers. It's quite cool too, at 20C. A few weeks ago we had heatwaves and bushfires so the weather's all over the damn shop. To give you an idea of just how weird the weather is lately, read this short thread on the GN forum.

From the Beeb: China is to relax its policy of restricting most couples to having only a single child, state media say. In future, families will be allowed two children if one parent is an only child, the Xinhua news agency said.

Once the only way to easily cross long distances, today train travel has been mostly replaced by the speed of aeroplanes and the convenience of cars. Yet in some parts of the world, riding the rails still brings travellers to unexpected and beautiful places that would be inaccessible any other way. To uncover some of the destinations that are best seen by train, we turned to members of the question-and-answer site From Asia to Africa, they identified five countries where the train journey is as incredible as the final destination, whether for the stunning surrounds, the well-run routes or the luxury of the train carriages.

OR Richie has a thing about train travel, and has mentioned Australia's Ghan. I think I'm a bit too fidgety and impulsive to be stuck on a train for that long. I'd rather potter along at my own pace and stop regularly to enjoy a sticky beak. No tackling SA's desert country in PJ though, not with 2WD.

Well, on a wet and dreary day when there's not a lot to do, I figured I'd fiddle with something I've been meaning to do for quite a while. TX Greg used to send rockets up my metaphorical when ever I posted a pic too wide on Waffle. It meant he'd have to scroll back and forth (he uses some ridiculous screen reso). So I remembered that there were some quite large photos on the Scrapbook pages which caused the green side columns (like those on this page) to narrow. Today, I started to reduce the size of the offending photos and will continue the job over the next few days or so. The reduction is not as small as Greg would prefer but it works for me. Max width is now 900. The job is not as easy as it looks; it requires a fair bit of mucking about.

Another job is to go back through all the Journal pages and change the links to open in a new window. See what happens when you don't know what you're doing in the first place?

GNs get cranky about that too... when some newbie posts an enormous pic on a thread that causes the text to stretch a mile to the right - and not for that post alone, but for the entire length of the thread. Grrrrr.

The GN who posted the thread about bike riding through the snow is also the bloke who owns one of those Grand Villas TX Greg mentioned the other day. Greg sent a link to one for sale in the US with pics, which I posted on the Show Us Your Rig Section. This is what the GN had to say about the "door bell": Mine does 14 MPG, not bad for a ten ton Coach, And it does get up and Tango. Dedicated Ice maker, Garbage Compactor, Two door full size fridge, Its a mansion on wheels, and it cost me a whole 15 grand in the USA, on the road here, 70 grand. Nothing in OZ like it, Door bell, Slide out step, Auto.

Jeez, 15 grand in the USA and to think modest li'l PJ has set me back 12. Hehe. Oh well...

And speaking of Texans: In a crowded city at a busy bus stop, a woman who was waiting for a bus was wearing a tight leather skirt. As the bus stopped and it was her turn to get on, she became aware that her skirt was too tight to allow her leg to come up to the height of the first step of the bus. Slightly embarrassed and with a quick smile to the bus driver, she reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little, thinking that this would give her enough slack to raise her leg. 

Again, she tried to make the step only to discover she still couldn't. So, a little more embarrassed, she once again reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little more. For the second time, she attempted the step, and, once again, much to her chagrin, she could not raise her leg. With little smile to the driver, she again reached behind to unzip a little more and again was unable to make the step. 

About this time, a large Texan who was standing behind her picked her up easily by the waist and placed her gently on the step of the bus. She went ballistic and turned to the would-be Samaritan and screeched, "How dare you touch my body! I don't even know who you are!'

The Texan smiled and drawled, "Well, ma'am, normally I would agree with you, but after you unzipped my fly three times, I kinda figured we was friends."

And with that, I'm outta here! Gary

November 15, 2013. Showers are forecast for Monday when I drive to Port Macquarie. It'll be the first time I've driven PJ in rain, especially at speed, which I'm a bit concerned about. PJ is fine when stationary in rain, even heavy rain, but I'm not sure she's built to stay dry when heading into it at 80+ km/h. A lot of GNs have complained about leaking front windows in their vans while driving in rain but PJ has a protective flap. Fingers crossed. I could unload the camper and put it on jacks, of course... but it's too much hassle. Which reminds me, next time I do, I'll need to remember the battery isolator thingy.

I've had encouraging responses from eBay buyers about the Willebrant print from 2 "watchers". The Townsend print has had about half the viewers but also 1 "watcher". In any case, it looks like I'll be able to swap the prints for a couple of under-tray tool boxes and maybe even the cost of some of the labor. Sounds fair to me. Now I'll have to find something to pay for a spare tire. This is like bartering hehe.

BTW, Lindsay told me a bloke across the road (who rides a Harley) asked if PJ was for sale. "Nope, he's goin' round Straya." But I don't think I'll have any probs if or when the time comes to sell and upgrade. I have no plans in that regard but ya never know. Bill, the GN with a similar rig, just sold his 4WD diesel Courier for a later model and offered me the old one for $4000. No thanks. I'd rather have $4000 in the bank and stick with PJ. That's the next project. Save, save, save.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has announced a one-year reprieve for millions of Americans facing cancelled insurance plans under his healthcare law. A contrite Mr Obama said his administration "fumbled the rollout" of his flagship domestic achievement. Companies discontinued the policies as they did not meet new minimum requirements under the legislation.

Police in Canada say 348 people have been arrested and nearly 400 children rescued during a three-year investigation into child pornography. At the centre of the inquiry was a Toronto-based firm that allegedly sold DVDs and streamed videos of naked children. Azov Films marketed the footage as "naturist" and claimed it was legal in Canada and the US

The relief operation in the central Philippines to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan is making progress following the arrival of a US aircraft carrier and its escort of two cruisers. More victims are receiving help but a BBC correspondent at the scene says there is still no large-scale food distribution taking place. And it's not the first time those US floating cities have come to the aid of disaster victims.

A time-lapse makeover of a homeless US man has been watched more than 13 million times on YouTube in the past week. In two minutes, former soldier Jim Wolf is shown making the transition from bearded and bedraggled to well-groomed and sharply-suited. Since then, the 54-year-old - who has long struggled against poverty, homelessness and alcoholism - has reportedly started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and is now staying with his sister. Producer Rob Bliss made the video to raise awareness and funds for a Grand Rapids homeless charity, Degage Ministries - which has received $50,000 (£30,000) in donations as a result

A truck caused significant damage and long delays when its front section crashed into the roof of the motorway tunnel in Sydney on Thursday. All city-bound lanes of the M5 tunnel were closed as emergency workers removed the vehicle and cleared debris from the road

I was gonna comment on that last story but now that I drive a tall vehicle, I better keep my trap shut. The last time I had a problem with a vehicle taller than the ceiling was back in the late '80s when I turned off Pitt St Sydney and into a steep drive leading to an underground car park. Fortunately, I stopped my pop-top Kombi campervan to check the height of the entrance which was just a few inches too low. Soooooooo, my job now was to reverse up the steep drive before any cars banked up behind me, and then reverse across the footpath with its zillions of pedestrians and into a street full of city traffic. Not an easy task, ladies and genitals. Somehow I managed to complete my mission without major incident and swore that I would never put myself into such an embarrassing pickle ever again.

No, that wasn't the last time. The last time was when I wanted to check if Bluey would clear the garage tilt-a-door and enlisted Lindsay's help. So there he was like a man riding a pogo stick, watching the roof of Bluey as I inched my way under the door. "It's touching," he announced between bounces. Touching? I expected to be warned BEFORE it touched. What a lamebrain. Mind you, I wasn't the sharpest tool either when I forgot to close the hatch and backed it into the other garage door, a roll-a-door. Goodbye all the glass. Sheesh. That cost $500 to repair.

Of course, there have been numerous other embarrassing misadventures along the road to AO. People could be forgiven for suspecting that I'm not the full quid hehe. That I have a quaint predilection for getting myself into strife. But you must admit, I've been cruising along pretty well lately. No major dramas. Parking three inches away from my neighbor on the first shakedown wasn't exactly my finest moment but at least he was gracious about it (apart from calling me an old drunk).

There's a story in the GN mag about a couple of GNs minding their own business when a giant gum tree decided to cark it and crashed on top of their 4WD, then it bounced and flattened the van they were towing. No one was hurt but they were pretty shaken up. I've heard other GNs warn of camping under those things. They have a habit of losing their limbs as well. I've been bushwalking a few times around these parts and it's quite common to see large gums or parts thereof scattered on the ground. Campers are delighted, of course, because it's an endless supply of firewood (if you happen to be carrying a chainsaw). Billeeeeeee the other day posted a pic of his campsite with a bunch of GNs relaxing and a huge pile of split firewood stacked neatly to one side. Their "happy hour" tends to last well into the night. Come to think of it, most of the large town parks around here are devoid of gum trees. Instead, there are lots of Moreton Bay figs, jacarandas and palms. Taree is named afer the Moreton Bay fruit. Here's a pic (taken at Wingham in the flying fox reserve) showing how big their root system is.

The Beeb yesterday ran the story of ex PM Kevin Rudd retiring from politics. Last night I saw his speech in parliament which was televised. Ol' Kevvie was very emotional. And then various people from both sides of the House stood to make speeches about what a grand man Kevvie is and what a fine PM he was. Even our current PM Tony Abbott was glowing in his praise for his arch enemy. Sheesh. Not long ago during the election campaign Abbott and his team were calling Kevvie a crook and a charlatan as well as an assassin for the way he had Julia Gillard turfed out of the job. Fair dinkum, it's a bloody joke.

And I have no idea why current affairs and news programs bother to interview politicians. They never answer the hard questions. They avoid them by skirting around them and changing the subject. Rarely if ever do they give a direct answer to a direct question. Even worse is when they interview two pollies from opposite sides simultaneously.

Anyway, nuffa that. Where I'm going once I hit the road, the last thing on my mind will be pollies. And don't ask me what will be on my mind cos I'm not tellin'. Gary

November 14, 2013. For some reason this morning I thought about my time in hospital after the cancer operation in January 2012 and the 2 weeks I spent not eating. I didn't have the strength to walk the corridors of the hospital or even shower. On the day I was to be discharged, I had major trouble trying to get out of my hospital gown and into my jeans. But I kept it secret. No way was I gonna spend a moment longer than necessary there. On the way out, I had to rest several times. Then outside, I spotted a taxi not all that far away but it almost killed me trying to lug my backpack there. The driver dropped me at Central Station where I had to sit for a while just a few meters away before I attempted to walk to my platform. Even on the train trip, I collapsed to the floor while trying to buy something in the dining car. At Taree station, it was the same story. I barely had the strength to walk to a cab. At home, I fell into a chair and spent a month or so hallucinating and feeling totally disoriented. Sheer stubbornness got me through it. But it's only now, when I look back, that I realize how serious it all was at the time. Kinda scary, actually.

Roite. The weather forecast on telly last night warned of severe thunderstorms with golf-ball size hail from Taree all the way up to northern Queensland. But so far, it appears that Taree has escaped the storms, although thunder is forecast for tomorrow. The idea of speeding golf balls dancing on PJ's roof and bonnet/hood doesn't thrill me too much. Solar panels weren't designed to cope with that kind of assault. Anyway, so far, so good.

From the Beeb: US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey has said she feels the time is finally right for audiences to embrace films that tackle slavery and civil rights. The 59-year-old told BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz she was "so happy" a number of new titles cover the topics. One of these, 12 Years a Slave, moved her to tears during the interview. Asked if some of the challenges and criticisms faced by President Barack Obama were down to the colour of his skin, she said: "There's no question."

During the last federal election in the States, OR Richie commented that some rednecks he knew in his area referred to Obama in the most derogatory and insulting terms - and that's not even the deep south. Rednecks are everywhere, including Oz. Hopefully, younger generations will exercise more tolerance and understanding.

Former Australian leader Kevin Rudd has announced his retirement from politics. In an emotional speech, the former Labor Party leader said he had not arrived at the decision lightly. But Mr Rudd, who served as prime minister twice, attributed the decision to his family and said it had been an honour to lead the nation. I remember calling him 'Rudd the Dud' in 2007 and still feel that way. The last six years with Gillard and Rudd playing musical chairs were a disaster.

It's been another slow day so I took the time to put together an album of photos NC Art sent the other day - Grand and Amazing Sights (with captions).

My Red Bubble calendars arrived today, which is pretty fast delivery from the US. RB does an excellent job of the printing. The calendars are quite large, printed on good quality art paper. But the thing I find with photography is that you're never satisfied. You always want to do something better.

I also wrote to the seller of the hammock in China. They've offered to ship a second hammock for free or return my money, so I can't complain about that. 

Now here's something NC Art might remember but I certainly don't. I vaguely remember 8 tracks but they came later.

And now we have thumb-size USB drives that can hold hundreds of CDs! 1959 was the year I bought my first stereogram, a furniture piece with valve radio and 3 speed record player (33, 45, 78).


November 13, 2013. Back from Nancy and Emma filling my mouth with lots of stainless steel and a mini Hoover. They said yesterday an elderly woman arrived from a local nursing home and when Nancy asked her to open her mouth she flatly refused and kept her lips tightly shut. Hehe. But Nancy's charm and persistence eventually won the day. It's pretty hard to get cranky with Nancy. I must remember to ask why Emma has the nickname 'Spanners'. On second thought, maybe I shouldn't. Nancy also thanked me for my assistance at one stage of proceedings. She used one of her instruments to grab hold of a particularly sensitive bit of bone, knowing it would hurt, so when I instinctively retreated, the piece was dislodged. She's been after that annoying bit for ages and was determined to get it no matter how much I yelped. 

TX Greg wrote: The pics you posted yesterday of the "big American coaches". That is a Foretravel Grand Villa. Worked on quite a few of those. But you should have said "big Texas coaches" as they are built here, hehe... Here's one for sale like in those pics, and it even has a door bell. hahaha

Yes, but I've got a bicycle bell. So there. I thought the GNs would be interested in checking out the interior of that coach for sale, so I posted the links there too. That's quite a sumptuous camper! Bit big for me though, not to mention pricey. Aussie vans and motorhomes are lot plusher than they used to be back in the days of plywood and basic fitouts, but still a long way short of American standards.

If I ever do settle down somewhere at some stage, there's no way I could afford a house but, given enough time to sock a few bob away in a savings account, I could probably afford a decent van with all the mod cons. Anyway, that's a long, long way down the proverbial.

I think the first time I took an interest in auto butts was when I saw the '47 Dodges as a kid. What a cute butt they had!

Ever since then, I've been a butt fan. The ubiquitous Mini had a cute butt. Even my Falcon ute had a nice little butt, more pronounced in the wagon version. So did the little Renault 4CV as well as the iconic Fiat Bambino. Butts rock! Not many cars these days have a butt but the Nissan Micra does.

From the Beeb: A committee of architects has declared New York City's newly erected One World Trade Center the tallest building in the US, at 1,776ft (541m). The Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat announced its decision in Chicago. The previous title holder was that city's tallest building, the Willis Tower, at 1,451ft (442m). The committee ruled a 408ft needle at the top counted toward its height.

The US space agency (Nasa) has released a spectacular new picture of the Planet Saturn, acquired by the Cassini spacecraft in July. The image was produced as part of The Day The Earth Smiled Project, which was led by Dr Carolyn Porco. She describes how and why the picture was put together

Back from a little shopping. When I returned to PJ parked in the street between the two main shopping malls and bottle shop/liquor store, I sat for five or so minutes just observing people, one of whom said 'Owya goin', Digger?' I haven't been called digger in ages. Anyway, it's quite interesting to observe people going about their business, as well as the cars they drive (and the way they drive them). Normally, we don't take much notice of our surroundings in familiar circumstances so it's quite a treat to take a little time out to People Watch.

Now lemme see. The circumference of Oz by road is about 25,000 kms. So if I cover an average of 100 kms a week, that's 250 weeks or about 5 years, and I reckon you could easily add another 5 years for all the bits in between. Hehe. That's quite a trip! One GN said the other day he's covered about 80,000 in 3 years so he's averaging about 500 kms a week. Sounds a bit busy for me. I don't like driving any longer than an hour or two at a stretch. I wanna stop for a cuppa and a poke around. Even when I cross the Nullarbor it'll be done in several hops.

Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming. There was an American author interviewed on telly the other night who said he was always day dreaming. I can't remember anything in my life that has occupied my mind like the Odyssey has. Even when I bought my little house in Glebe it kinda fell into my lap. Owning a house wasn't something I'd given much thought to. Neither was anything else I've done over the years - with one exception, and it's parked in the yard right now. Looking back, if I'd been this obsessive about other things I've done - even just one - I'd have been far more successful. Oh well, never mind. The fat lady ain't sung yet.

And there ya go, another day closer to the dream fulfilled! Gary

November 12, 2013. Big American coaches are pretty rare in Oz but even rarer is to see two of them together at the same camp site (Greens Lake). Pic 1, Pic 2 and Pic 3.

There was an article in the GN mag about the approaching holiday season which means camp sites and caravan parks will be chockers with vacationers on annual leave. It makes it difficult for long-term nomads to find a spot, especially in the more popular areas. So that's something I'll have to contend with once I hit the road... where to go during peak season. Park fees skyrocket too, so finding a decent free camp would be next to impossible. I'm thinking the only solution would be to hightail it out to buggery where there's hardly a soul in sight. Either that, or find a "friend" with a backyard.

I posed the question on the GN forum and so far there are two suggestions: one is to stay off the beaten track and go gold prospecting and the other is house minding.

During the time I've been a GN member, I've read a few posts by GNs who have done The Big Lap on motorcycles, so it was interesting this morning to get this email from our very own Wiz. He offered to mail me a copy of a book owned by his dad but I declined the offer because such things won't be coming with me on the Odyssey: I understand completely. I've ridden motorcycles all over the place within the US borders, the summer of 2012 I was gone for 3 months. Everything I bring with me thats for me (ie not tools and emergency bivy bag) fits in a duffle bag - thats clothes, laptop, journal, ink bottle.. Man computers and digital music players really have revolutionized traveling light. I kind of envy you the camper, thats a bit more homely than roach motels and free national parks in the bivy bag =P I'll tell you what, for me the road is home. I've got my own house now but as much as I love it it feels like an anchor. When I go wandering my home is where ever my motorcycle and I end up. I've also given up on the interstates - no more 75mph roaring traffic and miles of nothing but trees and concrete. Since that trip in '12 its been state highways - 50mph and glorious awe inspiring scenery - be it empty houses being reclaimed by the earth or swampy trees or going through the middle of a city… state highways (at least in the US) are the only way to travel. 

hahaha, I envy you the places you'll go over there on the far side of the world. 

Why do I have to continually remind people that THIS is not the far side of the world... OVER THERE is. As to major highways, yes, I agree. Miles and miles of high-speed freeway ain't my thing. I like slower speeds, by-roads and lots of scenery. Besides, ol' PJ couldn't do 75 unless it's km/h. Most GNs cruise at 80 - 90 km/h. It's more economical too. I take it bivy comes from bivouac. It's also called a swag in Oz...

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?"

NC Art sent this link to a Smithsonian article about the beauty and dignity of elderly animals: Some of those photos remind me of myself except for the dignity part…..

And down comes the rain, which is great for folks on the land. There have been good falls across western Queensland and NSW too.

From the Beeb: Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity to speed relief efforts for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. In a statement, he said the two worst affected provinces, Leyte and Samar, had suffered massive destruction and loss of life. Thousands of survivors are still desperately waiting for the aid effort to reach them. At least 10,000 people are feared to have been killed.

Levels of gun violence have more than tripled since 1985 in films rated as suitable for teenagers, according to a US study. Gun violence in PG-13 films last year actually exceeded that in films rated R for viewers aged 17 and older, according to the research. Overall film violence had doubled since 1950, found the study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics. Put simply, violence "sells", one researcher told the BBC.

Only in England: Photographs from a bygone era: Before his death at the age of 30, photographer Tony Ray-Jones spent the latter half of the 1960s travelling across England trying to capture a disappearing way of life. His distinctive take on English eccentricity had a profound influence on a young photography student at the time - Martin Parr - who, himself, would go on to have a distinguished career behind the lens. Martin Parr has selected dozens of Tony Ray-Jones' images to be shown at the Science Museum in London, alongside some of his own rarely seen images from the 1970s. Here, take a few minutes to look back at a bygone era.

Back from laundry and petroleum. I set the trip meter to zero last time I filled up and now it's time to see what mileage I get around town. 160 kms @ 40 liters. Doesn't sound too good.  4 kms per liter, is that right? So to cover 100 kms it would take 25 liters. Sheesh! That's 9 mpg US for a 2.6 liter 4 cyl. I've heard Couriers are thirsty buggers but that's ridiculous. Admittedly it's around town with lots of engine warming during cold starts and short trips, and a ton of camper sitting on the back. The rear tires were a bit low (since inflated back to 60psi for the trip to Port Macquarie. 32 in the front). I'll measure the mileage again after the PM trip, which is 160 km of freeway driving, return.

The other thing I'm not sure of is when I ask Ford for a full service do they include a tune up? Probably not. So I'll ask next time. Bill, the bloke with the diesel Courier and similar camper gets about 13/14 liters per 100 kms, which is half what I'm using - but that's on a trip. Well, while I wasn't expecting this news to be good, I was hoping for better than the mileage of a Sherman tank! I'll know more next week after my visit to PM.

Another thing I've been pondering lately is how long I should camp at my first stop once I hit the road full time? I'm certainly not interested in embarking on a mad rush to complete the circuit, that's for sure. So my first camp will probably be a week or even two at the same spot. I'd like to ease myself into the lifestyle nice and slow and get used to living in PJ before I get serious about the travelling aspect. I don't want the Odyssey to be a series of fixed arrival and departure dates, I want to arrive and depart when it suits me. That was one aspect of the shakedown that annoyed me, knowing that I was due to leave on the second day.

You know when you shake your tea bag to remove it from the cup and the string breaks and the bag falls back into the boiling water and you don't have a teaspoon handy to retrieve it? No? Well, as of now, I do.

And that's it for Chewdsee. Thanks for chewning in, folks. Gary

November 11, 2013. At 11am on the 11th of the 11th, we shall remember them. Lest we forget.

There was a program on telly last night about an American pastor, a woman from Portland Oregon, who said that ideology is responsible for so much evil in the world. For example, Hitler created something to believe in; something larger than life; something that divided the population into 'us and them'; the righteous and the sinful. Without that belief and the support of its adherents, Hitler's murderous mayhem would not have been possible.

And on the subject of where one hangs one's hat, NC Art wrote: Poets have a lot of fun with houses and homes… here’s a couple examples.

Edgar A. Guest, smarmy, too cute American poet: It takes a heap of living in a house to make it home

Robert Frost, hardnosed, practical, cold American Northeast country chap: Home is where when you have to go they have to take you in.

One incident that really stands out in my mind is the time, about 6 years ago, I visited Ellenborough Falls and decided to take the walk down to the bottom, which is a 200 meter vertical drop. The walk, though, is a zig-zagging, steep descent over a kilometer long. Bugger me dead if the HP camera didn't stuff up when I got there. Then I discovered that a descent is also an ascent in reverse, and it took many mini-climbs and much huffing and puffing before I eventually reached the top. I was never so glad in my life to see something familiar - Tough Titties waiting like a faithful dog in the parking lot.

So I reckon there will be times on the Odyssey when I drag my feet back from a photographic expedition to see PJ waiting patiently for my return with a cuppa and a comfortable chair to cradle my weary bones. Home Sweet Home, yeah?

From the Beeb: The head of the Red Cross in the Philippines has described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan as "absolute bedlam". Up to 10,000 people are believed to have died in Tacloban city and hundreds elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced. Yesterday they were talking about a mortality rate in the hundreds.

One of the GNs who writes regular updates on the forum has just posted some pics and text about his time at Greens Lake with a whole bunch of other GNs sharing fun times together. I'd always thought of the GN lifestyle as being more about sightseeing and travelling than socializing, but not for these guys.

However, despite the fun and games of the Greens mob, I think my preference will be more of a solo Odyssey experience with occasional campfire chats along the way. I tend to enjoy my own space (and pace) to write and think, or to take a walk or a bike ride. But we'll see.

Two Dublin nuns sat at traffic lights in their car when a bunch of rowdy drunks pulls up alongside. "Oi, get your tits out, you penguins!" shouts one of the drunks. 

The Mother Superior turns to Sister Immaculata, "I don't think they know who we are - show them your cross."

So Sister Immaculata winds down her window and shouts, "Screw off you little wankers, before I come over there and rip your balls off!"

Well, if it had been any quieter around here today it would have been canceled... except for my appointment with Nancy, of course. She's quite pleased with the progress so far and wants me to look my best for the oncologist in Port Macquarie today week. I would have used the opportunity for another shakedown up the coast if it weren't for another appointment the following day with my local GP. Oh well... Gary

November 10, 2013. Sundeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Cool and cloudy and a total contrast to yesterday when it was 36C and humid. Bushfires were doing their thing around Sydney and also up here on the mid north coast but they've since been downgraded. Got a bit of thunder and lightning last night plus a few drops of rain. We really are desperate for rain. I read a post on the GN forum this morning asking nomads to visit farmers in west Queensland just to say g'day and show a bit of sympathy for their plight caused by severe drought. Many farmers are driven to suicide during such terrible times, so a friendly face, and knowing that people really do care, can (and does) make a difference.

According to the forecast, we're in for a week's worth of rain so I hope it falls where it's most needed. Trouble is, in many cases, the damage has already been done. In the Philippines lately, of course, they've had a tad more wind and rain than necessary.

NC Art wrote: The buying and selling of art prints is baffling to maddening because it makes no sense to anyone other than the buyer or seller. Maybe not even to them or to the gallery if and when involved.

I own a pair of bird prints, one of which was on the market for $125.00. That one was a gift to me by the artist because my shop had printed the pair as limited offerings. The other was already sold out a month after release. To obtain the sold out print I asked a gallery to find a seller. [My wife was hell bent on having the pair to display.] The print cost me $515.00. Was there some mysterious quality in the second Oriole rendered on art paper? I didn’t know then and don’t know now! 

Artists and collectors of art are all a might daft, dontcha think? How else to explain the craze, brief than God, for Elvis black velvet silhouettes?

p.s. Google Don Balke and see what you get. He is the painter of the prints mentioned

Australian Aborigines are discovering the value of art. You see lots of them in outback communities sitting in groups outdoors doing their thing on bark or canvas, and finding a ready market with tourists. I think Betty Windsor has one or two in her collection. The dot technique Aboriginal artists use is fascinating. I watched a local Taree painter one time placing his dots carefully on a canvas. It's a very slow and meticulous process. Here he is again.

Guess who's back! Or perhaps never really left. Wiz! He signed the guestbook the other day. And so did JustinO.

From the Beeb: Hundreds of people are feared dead in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan swept through on Friday. Among the worst hit areas were the eastern island of Leyte and the coastal city of Tacloban, which saw buildings flattened in a storm surge. First reports said 100 bodies had been found there but the Red Cross later estimated a figure of more than 1,000, with 200 more deaths in Samar province. Hundreds of thousands of people are reported displaced from their homes.

For months now Israel has watched with alarm as its best friend has schmoozed its worst enemy. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has warned repeatedly that the United States should not take the overtures of the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at face value

Although she didn't publish her first novel until she was 42, Phyllis Dorothy James had been writing since childhood. Now a celebrated crime writer, she has penned more than 20 books, including The Children Of Men, and the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series. At the age of 93, she says she wants to write just one more detective novel. Here are her top 10 tips for being an author.

The Nazi Anatomists: How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics.

TX Greg wrote: My dad used to say when I was little that "A house is where you hang your hat", hehe. I can totally relate and understand what you mean by "home" versus a house. I've lived in this house now for over ten years but it never has had that true "home" feeling,  whereas my old Winnebago still gives me that warm "home" feeling. I guess it is because the Winnie has been a part of my life for so long and there are tons of great memories, not to mention all the sex I've had in there, hahaha.

But seriously, the "home" feeling I think is in part cherished memories and things around us that we take comfort in. And you have the biggest home of all, your backyard OZ. PJ will start off as a place to hang your hat, but as your travels and wonderful memories happen, PJ will become home :)

You've pretty much written what I've been thinking lately, Greg; that memories play a big part in what makes a place feel like home. Well said, Greg, and thanks for the message. Meanwhile, there have been some interesting new additions to the GN forum comments.

Bit the bullet and posted my prints for auction on eBay. Couldn't find a reserve option so I've listed the starting prices at the minimum I'm prepared to accept. I've not offered postage either cos they're too big and heavy. Here's the Willebrant print, and here's the Townsend print. So now let's wait to see what happens. I suspect nothing until today week when it gets close to end of the auctions. What's important between now and then is enough time to attract potential bidders.

And speaking of art, this is the way automobiles were once advertised.

So that's it for today, Ls and Gs. Time to substitute waffling for waddling. Gary

November 9, 2013. $39 for a bit of tin with my rego details imprinted thereon. Sheesh. I just ordered my bike-rack plate.

Yesterday, I posted a question on the GN forum about the feeling of "home", and if a rig can ever provide that feeling while living the nomad lifestyle. After 120 views, and no response, I was beginning to despair. But then along came Rowdyrabbit to the rescue with a surprising comment.

That's a shot taken at Greens Lake in Victoria (near Ballarat). It's very popular with the 'fruit loops' and 'nutters'.

On 'Off the Clock and Off the Rocker', NC Art wrote: The motorcycle man story wasn’t too surprising. That’s why we have The Darwin Awards for the exceptionally capable at removing cleansing the gene pool. A real bubblehead who worked(?) for me once did a good job with his motorbike-in-the- kitchen caper.

One cold night he rode his bike home after a pleasant visit with a good friend, a couple of maryjanes and jug of rotgut liquor. He pushed his bike into the kitchen and proceeded to refuel from a can of petrol. The bike engine was hot—of course—and caught fire, exploding the gas container and giving the emergency room doctors employment in treating a lot of barbequed skin.

A month later he returned to work a tad drunk and started his printing press, but with one hand in the mechanism adjusting paper grippers. He left one finger behind and carried two others badly mangled into my office. I loaded him in my car along with a chap to assist him and off to the hospital. My helper fainted when he saw the surgeon working with the mangled paw. A minute or so later the doctor really looked at the hapless motorcycle victim and said, “You again?!”

There are days when being the boss really sucks.

You certainly have a way with words, Art. Yep, accidents waiting to happen. No shortage of those on the planet. 

FL Josh sent a couple more links to auction prices in relation to my fine art prints. Thanks, Josh. I was aware of those which is the reason I was surprised by the asking price of similar prints on eBay by dealers. I guess the real test is to put them out there in the marketplace and wait for a result. There's an auction show on telly I watch. Valuers can make estimates but prices can fluctuate wildly from auction to auction even in relation to identical objects. It all gets down to who's in the auction room at a particular time and what those particular bidders are prepared to pay. Some top bids can be well above the reserve while others are passed in.

Speaking of auctions, my ex neighbor in Glebe sent this link just now to recent auctions in the area, including two in Hegarty St where I lived. To think that little house is not all that far short of a million bucks. Crazy. Here's #7 that sold for $815K, just a few doors down from mine. And here's #9 that sold for $760K.

So I sent my neighbor a pic of my new house, PJ, which has cost about $12K so far. Hehe. Down the track, I'll send him pics of my backyard.

Quiet day at the Beeb too. Here it's hot and humid and rather oppressive. A sea breeze would be nice but you need the sea for that. Ah! The fan! Yeah, that's better. I bought that old National second hand in Brisbane back in '83 and it's still going. It was one of a pair I bought for $20.

Well, it was an interesting response from GNs about their rigs feeling like "home". One said she enjoyed living in the van but was also glad to get back to her Home home. Fair enough - she has a choice. PJ will be my one and only. Another GN nominated a particular area where she felt at "home", and plans to settle there. I guess I'll experience lots of places that appeal to me more than others, and perhaps even one in particular that I'll eventually want to call home when the AO is over. IF, it's ever over while I'm still kickin'. But, of course, all that is speculation at this point. Anything could happen and probably will.

I suppose all of us at one time or another have been asked "what's it like to..." in relation to something unusual we've experienced. But I suspect that in many (if not most) cases it's a matter of you had to be there to fully appreciate what something is like. I've read thousands of posts on the GN forums (okay, fora) and yet I'm still not all that much the wiser. Even my own shakedown was too brief to provide much of an impression. Not to mention the restrictions of being on a special diet and medication.

Actually, I must keep the "what's it like to..." question in mind when I write the journal for the benefit and edification of readers. So what's it like to sit in my fav chair and watch telly? I'm not telling. Gary

November 8, 2013. TX Greg sent a link to Graeme Townsend's work. Yes, I saw that one. Seems like Townsend is not in as much demand as James Willebrant. FL Josh also sent a couple of links with prints and prices. Seems like screenprints are more valuable than lithos, and mine is a screen. However, mine is not listed there. This is the Willebrant I have, 'Unexpected Aerial Achievement' (much larger in the 'flesh'). Thanks for the response!

The prints were gifts from a friend who mixed in art world circles back in the early '80s. He went broke some years later and asked for his prints back, so I told him to go to buggery. A couple of others were broken by my ex-biz partner when he offered to transport them for me to Canberra. So I sent them to a framer there and they disappeared along with the framer. Meanwhile, Steve W recommends Gumtree rather than eBay for a quicker sale.

NC Art sent a piece about the elderly and their constant battle with technology. It's a bit long for Waffle so I posted it on the GN forum.

Art also wrote: When El Camino first appeared I drooled over the thing … but never could justify adding another vehicle to my already sufficient fleet. BTW, El Camino in Spanish just means ’the road’. Not exactly romantic. But if you say El Camino Real that makes it plumb exotic. Royal Road sounds so classy.

But there are bloopers too. F’rinstance the Chevy Nova got big belly laughs in Mexico when the natives saw billboards advertising the thing. No va just means no go in Spanish … or won’t go or doesn’t go. Not the image Chevrolet sought!

Meanwhile here’s a classic blunder. In paying a $39.01 credit card bill on line, the bank sent the $39.01 AND the sum of $3,901.00. When Visa gets it hot hands on that I’ll have to start a war to wrestle it out of their greedy paws. I can see a battle brewing.

Cheers and gnashing of teeth, (gums?)

I splurged on 6 of my Red Bubble calendars today even though I should have waited. I give them away as Christmas prezzies, which is only about 6 weeks away! Sooooo...

And surprise, surprise! I heard Lindsay telling Sue he was going shopping which normally means I get saddled with her mischief-making while he's away. But not this time. He plonked her in the wheel chair and took her with him, which is a first! Maybe he's turned over a new leaf. She'll enjoy that experience, seeing all the peeps and shops at the Mall. Prior to her recent stint in hospital, she hadn't seen the outdoors for ages... at least a year. So I took the opportunity to remove my prints from the living room walls and place them here in my office for cleaning. I also took photographs minus flash and reflections. With all the moving I've done over 30 years it's a wonder even two of them survived.

Yes, Sue just arrived back all beaming and jolly. Even with dementia, she needs a bit of cerebral and physical stimulation. AND, the wheelchair doubles as a trolley to carry all the stuff.

From the Beeb: Typhoon Haiyan, the world's strongest storm of the year, has made landfall in the Philippines with winds of up to 235 km/h (146mph). The category-five storm was centred 62 km south-east of Guiuan, in the country's Eastern Samar province, the national weather service said. Rescue services have reportedly lost contact with Guiuan, a town of 47,000. How scary is that? One of the GNs from the forum is actually there at the mo.

Shares in the micro-blogging site Twitter closed at $44.90, up more than 73% from their initial price of $26 each. That means after its first day as a public company, Twitter is now valued at a little over $31bn (£19bn). More than 13 million shares were traded once they became available an hour after the New York Stock Exchange opened. It is the biggest technology listing since Facebook in 2012

Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has apologised for a video of him making threats to commit "first-degree murder" against an unknown person. The leader of Canada's biggest city told reporters he had been "extremely inebriated" in the clip, which shows him apparently blowing off steam. It is the latest video controversy to engulf the mayor, who admitted this week having smoked crack cocaine.

Pakistan's government has accused the US of deliberately destroying the chances of peace by killing Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike on 1 November. Guest columnist Ahmed Rashid argues that in reality there never were and never will be any speedy solutions to bring the conflict to an end.

Back from shopping, and there's a bol simmering on the stove. Pretty hard to go past good ol' bol and pasta with lots of grated paaaaaarmesan. This one is made with a roasted tomato and bacon sauce, with onion and a couple of bay leaves. Coles had regular mince (ground beef) at $3 for half a kilo (about a pound). How cheap is that? 

A man boarded an aircraft at London's Heathrow Airport for New York, and taking his seat as he settled in, he noticed a very beautiful woman boarding the plane. He realised she was heading straight toward his seat and bingo - she took the seat right beside him.

"Hello", he blurted out, "Business trip or vacation?"

She turned, smiled enchantingly and said, "Business. I'm going to the annual nymphomaniac convention in the United States ..."

He swallowed hard. Here was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen sitting next to him, and she was going to a meeting for nymphomaniacs!

Struggling to maintain his composure, he calmly asked, "What's your business role at this convention?"

"Lecturer," she responded," I use my experience to debunk some of the popular myths about sexuality.."

"Really", he smiled, "what myths are those?"

"Well," she explained, "one popular myth is that African-American men are the most well endowed when, in fact, it's the Native American Indian who is most likely to possess that trait. Another popular myth is that French men are the best lovers, when actually it is the men of Greek descent. We have also found that the best potential lovers in all categories are the Irish."

Suddenly the woman became uncomfortable and blushed. "I'm sorry," she said. "I really shouldn't be discussing this with you, I don't even know your name!"

"Tonto," the man said. "Tonto Papadopoulos, but my friends call me Paddy."

Weeeeeeeell, I better split! Getting close to soft seat and telly time. Gary

November 7, 2013. *Gloom*. Lindsay announced this morning that Sue will arrive home today. So I asked if the hospital people had figured out a way Sue can use the toilet without risking a repeat of what happened last time. "Don't worry about that... I'll take care of that." Yeah, right. He's got a bad back and there's no way I can lift Sue in my condition, so who's gonna help her when she has her next fall? It's only a matter of time.

FL Josh wrote: Here is an article about the Secrets of the Chevy El Camino, with mention that it is sort of still made with the existence of the Australian Holden Ute.

"Sort of" is right. The last of the Holden Utes in that body style was the WB which ceased production in 1980/1. There are still a lot of them around though, mostly restored by enthusiasts but with a few still used as daily workhorses. It's basically the same style as Tough Titties.

Here's a pic of the latest Holden Ute.

And speaking of old classics, Josh writes: The owner of a 1970 Plymouth GTX stopped to get a sandwich at a local restaurant and came outside to see a group of teenage boys gathered around his car. Several of the car’s admirers commented how cool it was, and then one of them asked, “Can you show us what it can do?” Oops! That's asking for trouble.

From the Beeb: Japan has long had a love affair with all things American, but what impact has the slump in the US economy and China's growing economic influence had on this relationship? The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Tokyo.

The BBC's David Grossman looks at the history of Twitter as the company begins its first day of trading after listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The giant microblogging site, founded just seven years ago, is worth more than $18bn. Four young friends started Twitter but over its lifetime those friendships have broken down.

Hmmm, well I've spent much of the day pondering various scenarios now that Sue is back, and I've arrived at a conclusion: I'd better get PJ totally sorted as quickly as possible. There are a couple of fine art, framed, limited-edition litho prints here, a legacy from my past wealth, that are worth a few bob. Not all that much but enough to buy 2 tool boxes and have them attached. I've been meaning to advertise them on eBay for ages. There are other saleable items as well so I better get my finger out and stop procrastinating.

Earlier, I wrote a long and detailed account of what really goes on here between L&S but then deleted it. No point in setting myself up for a law suit.

So you could say my mind has been kidnapped by events today, ladies and genitals, at Waffle's expense.

PS: Weeeeell, I just checked eBay for the asking price of James Willebrant's work. I have one of his limited edition prints from 1981 - #40 of 50. Graeme Townsend is the other print but I can't find much about him or what it might be worth. Gary

November 6, 2013. Speaking of air horns on bicycles, TX Greg (I knew sneaking up behind a little old lady and giving her a helluva fright would appeal to him) wrote: Now here's an air horn for your bike, hahaha

Yes, I can imagine all my fellow campers being most impressed with that at 5am.

As to veteran cars and London rallies, NC Art wrote: I made the run from London to Brighton many times, but always by train. A nice ride and good views from the window.

Soooo, in light of the probs we've encountered lately with ISPs blocking emails, I decided to try a test reply to South Carolina. Now, why did I write south instead of north? I have no idea. Still half asleep, I suppose. Well, it got as far as NORTH  Carolina. And that’s good enough since I live here now, although I was born in South Carolina. There’s a saying that described North Carolina as a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit, situated as it is between South Carolina and Virginia. Hehe.

I grew up watching cowboy movies and always thought the names of towns and states in the US sounded cool in songs like Wheelin' West Virginia and Carolina in the Morning. I cringed when I heard Aussie country and western singers warbling about a Broken Heart in Oodnadatta or No Worries in Wagga Wagga. Hehe.

Back from Nancy's mid-week oral fiddle and flush, and instructions to EAT more. Yeah, right, with what? Lindsay was spreading peanut butter on freshly made toast the other morning and the aroma nearly drove me insane. The simple things you take for granted when they're readily available. Incidentally, according to Nancy I'm Gaz now. How cozy.

A while ago. NC Art sent pics of 10 unique graveyards for abandoned objects, everything from planes to phone booths. Today I assembled all the photos and created an album which you can view here. Captions and explanations are beneath each pic.

Well, there's bugger all on the Beeb today so it looks like I'll have to tell lies about what an exciting life I'm leading. I did make an executive decision recently to stop taking statins - medication that reduces cholesterol. There was a program in two parts about statins on telly. Very enlightening stuff. Statins are the biggest selling drug in medical history, worth multi billions of dollars. While they do lower cholesterol, it's been shown in recent times that cholesterol is not only necessary for life, but also not the culprit in most cases of heart attacks. To blame the presence of cholesterol in the arteries of heart attack victims is like blaming the presence of fire fighters at a bushfire for causing it. Anyway, the bottom line is that statins cause serious side effects, one of which is muscle fatigue and lethargy. Remember I was complaining about that recently? Well, I've not been taking statins for a bit over a week now and I feel better. One patient interviewed said it took six months for him to recover from fatigue and lethargy.

I mentioned this to Nancy the other day and she said "I don't think not taking statins is of any concern in your case. You're too damn skinny." Meanwhile, the critics of statins go so far as to say there has been a conspiracy by drug companies to engineer the results of their own research in order to give cholesterol a bad name, and blame it for everything from obesity to heart disease. The critics say sugar is the main culprit, and that it's sugar in many processed foods that has taken the place of fat.

One critic commented on "low fat" labelling of processed food: "That's not science, that's marketing."

At the end of the program, there was a disclaimer: "The content of this program is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any decision regarding your medication." Yeah, right. It's the doctors who play follow the leader, and who are influenced by the drug company reps. By the way, the diet recommended by the medicos on the program was the Medterranean diet - lots of fish, vegetables, tomatoes, pasta and bread.

Oh yes, before I fergit, one of my jacaranda pics was featured by a group on Red Bubble. *blush*

Pay day tomorrow but my credit card account needs urgent attention, dammit. The good news is that I can splurge on two under-tray tool boxes the following pay, which is only 2 weeks away! Then I can get Peter the engineer to take care of those special jobs to make PJ a little more camp friendly and better organized. If there's one thing I'm a stickler for, it's being organized. Soooo, next mini O should be late Nov or early Dec... unless I get a bit antsy and have a quickie in between.

Guess what I found? After Art mentioned his trips from London to Brighton by train I checked Youtube to see if I could find something and I did. Here's the trip at more than 700 miles an hour - 50+ miles in 4 minutes. Maybe some of the scenery will bring back memories for Art. Hehe.

While I was snooping around there, I also found this video of Al Murray, a Brit stand up comedian, "doing Brighton". A very funny bloke.

Well, by golly dear Breth, just look at the time. Kinda snuck up on me while I was buggerizing around. Catchya tomorrow. Gary

November 5, 2013. First Tuesday in November, which means Melbourne Cup Day, "the race that stops a nation".

My first experience with a Melbourne Cup was in Year 8 when the teacher organized a break during class so we could all listen to the race on radio. Somehow, I was convinced by one of the kids to become a bookie and I accepted his bet at silly odds. All I knew was that he gave me a handful of cash and I thought 'Wow, this is cool! Money for nothing!' But then the kid sitting next to me explained that if the other kid's horse won, I'd have to pay him 5 times (or whatever it was) his investment. I was horrified! I had no idea! So I panicked and with just a minute or so before the horses jumped in the 1957 Melbourne Cup, I went to the betting kid's desk and returned his money. He was furious to say the least. Hehe. Oh, how naive I was back then. And not only back then. 

And who won the '57 Cup? Straight Draw.

I also remember a time in the playground when I tried to join a group of kids talking about horse racing. One kid named Jackson told me to piss off cos I was a nerd and knew nothing about the sport, or any sport for that matter. Little did either of us realize at the time that in my thirties I would be rubbing shoulders with the likes of John Tapp, Ray Warren, Des Hoysted, Ian Craig, Paul Ambrosoli and other leading race callers when I worked in Sydney radio. Jackson probably heard me on the air and thought, "How the hell did a nerd like Kelly ever get a job like that?" Neh, neh, neh, neh, neeeh, neh.

Not much on the Beeb today except this slide show of veteran cars registered prior to January 1 1905 participating in a rally through London. The evolution of the auto to what it is today is nothing short of astonishing.

Also, if you wanna read some interesting stuff about cool mission control rooms, check out this article.

A while back I bought a cheap 12V fan with a clip-on attachment that fixes to a car dash or table or bench. The package had been crushed in transit and the fan works only intermittently because of a faulty connection. So I gave the seller "neutral" feedback to which they responded rather unkindly. They say I should have contacted them first and sorted the matter before resorting to feedback. In any case, I think it's the soldering that's faulty so one of these days on my travels, I'll meet someone with a soldering iron who can fix it in a flash. Do surfers normally carry soldering irons? If I see some young bloke in boardies and flip flops with a stick under his arm, maybe I could ask.

That hammock I ordered from China still hasn't arrived after 2 months. They do say on their site that deliveries to some countries can take that long so I'll wait a little longer. But they don't have an email addy so I'll have to contact them via eBay messaging, whatever that means. Win some, lose some.

A nurse from Lismore Hospital (north of here not far from the Queensland border) must have read my piece about the shakedown. She sent a pdf of beaches and parks in the Richmond area with which I'm fairly familiar anyway having worked up that way on a couple of occasions. But that was nice of her.
One afternoon a lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the road-side eating grass. Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and got out to investigate. He asked one man, "Why are you eating grass?"

"We don't have any money for food," the poor man replied.  "We have to eat grass."

"Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I'll feed you," the lawyer said.

"But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree."

"Bring them along," the lawyer replied.

Turning to the other poor man he stated, "You may come with us, also."

The second man, in a pitiful voice, then said, "But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me!"

"Bring them all as well," the lawyer answered.

They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine was. Once under way, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, "Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you. "

The lawyer replied, "Glad to do it.  You'll really love my place.  The grass is almost a foot high."
London lawyer runs a stop sign and gets pulled over by a Glasgow copper. He thinks that he is smarter than the cop because he is a lawyer from LONDON and is certain that he has a better education than any Jock cop. He decides to prove this to himself and have some fun at the Glasgow cops expense!!

" Licence and registration, please."

"What for?"

"Ye  didnae  come to a complete stop at the stop sign."

"I slowed down, and no one was coming."

"Ye  still didnae come to a complete stop. Licence and registration, please." 

"What's the difference?"

"The difference is, ye huvte come to complete stop, that's the law, Licence and registration, please!"

"If you can show me the legal difference between slow down and stop, I'll give you my licence and registration and you give me the ticket. If not, you let me go and don't give me the ticket."

"Sounds fair. Exit your vehicle, sir."

The London Lawyer exits his vehicle. The Glasgow cop takes out his baton and starts beating the living shit out of the lawyer and says, "Dae ye want me to stop, or just slow doon?"
And there goes another Chewsdee, and the 2013 Melbourne Cup. I was reading a comment by a woman on one of the GN threads. With great care, taking into consideration barrier draw, jockey, trainer, past form, etc, she chose her horse and placed her bet. Her 5 y/o granddaughter wanted to back a horse too. She chose #3 because that's her favorite number. So the grandmother put $5 on the place for her granddaughter. The grandmother's horse came 13th and the granddaughter's (Red Cadeaux) managed second place, so she collected $67.50. Hehe.

Fiorente won the cup, trained by Gai Waterhouse, her first MC win. Gary

November 4, 2013. Nancy was delighted this morning about two areas of gum that had joined, so it's all happening, folks. And she says the more it happens, the more likely it'll keep happening with greater freqency... a sort of snowballing effect. How-bloody-ever, she noticed a small white lesion on the floor of my mouth and wrote a note she wants me to pass on to the oncologist in Port Macquarie when I see him in 2 weeks. "It's probably nothing but, in your case, we need him to examine it just to be sure."

Being Monday, I was asked the usual question by Nancy and Emma - what did I do over the weekend. "Oh, you mean Sunday 6 & 7?" Then I explained that GNs refer to the days of the week as being Sunday 1 through 7 cos every day is like a Sunday hehe. Nancy was soooo jealous.

TX Greg wrote: That burgundy Fisker you posted is one sweet ride. They went bankrupt about a year ago, but I see someone just bought up the assets... The Fisker Karma was a electric hybrid like the Chevy Volt, except about four times the price. It had a 50 mile range on battery and then there is a small gas engine generator for a extra 250 mile range. There was even solar panels on the roof too. Did you notice the chrome things on the back bumper that looked liked exhaust pipes? Those were speakers. Because the electric motor is so quiet, at low speeds, they put a pedestrian warning sound to alert someone the car is moving.

This is cool, the Fisker pedestrian warning sounds like a spaceship, hehe...

Bicycles are quiet too and mine's got a little bell. *Ding, ding!* Maybe I should get one of those air horns that attach to a can of pressurized air. Imagine sneaking up behind a little old lady and giving her a blast hehe. Have you heard one of those? They're deafening.

I'm really looking forward to throwing a leg over the old bicycle on the Odyssey. I rode it regularly up until a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It's a great way to get around camping areas and large parks, as well as sightseeing around small towns. It's also handy for doing a little local shopping if the camp area is a mile or two from the shops.

I watched At The Movies last night on telly. The two critics were bagging a particular movie despite its budget and famous actors, etc. And I thunk to meself, how is it that crap like that gets made in the first place? Where does the investment come from? How do the people involved manage to get on the payroll? Yeah. Well, I worked in the TV biz for a while and met a lot of wannabes and rectum cleaners hehe, so I should know better than to ask such a question. Once our project looked like becoming a goer, they came from everywhere like flies to Richard the Thirds. In our case - or mine in particular - the project had merit but was badly managed by my ex biz partner and his sycophants. We were right royally screwed by the TV industry.

I was thinking last night that if I ever won Lotto and had the wherewithall to write a screenplay about the Codeman and turn it into a movie, I'd be VERY careful about who I invited on board to crew the project.

I also happened to watch an episode of the Myth Busters. I learned that the myth about human beings using just 10% of their brains is just that. A load of old codswallop. After a number of brain scans on a volunteer undergoing a series of tests, they found that the brain's lobes on "idle" are using 15% of total brain capacity, and when all lobes are being fully utilized, they use 30%. It still means there's a whopping 70% sitting around twiddling its metaphoricals so, rest assured, evolution ain't finished yet.

From the Beeb: Senior US lawmakers have rejected the idea of any clemency for the fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. "Mr Snowden violated US law. He should return to the US and face justice," said White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer. Mr Snowden asked for international help to persuade the US to drop spying charges against him in a letter given to a German politician.

A collection of 1,500 artworks confiscated by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s has been found in the German city of Munich, media reports say. The trove is believed to include works by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall, the news magazine Focus reports. Some of the works were declared as degenerate by the Nazis, while others were stolen from or forcibly sold for a pittance by Jewish art collectors.

I still shake my head in utter astonishment at the thought of Hitler, resplendent in jodhpurs, riding boots and military cap, pompously parading himself peacock style while millions of emaciated, dishevelled prisoners await a grisly death in concentration camps and tens of millions of soldiers await slaughter on the killing fields of Europe. If it weren't true it would defy all credibility.

As to Edward Snowden returning to the US to "face justice", there can be no justice. In his case, as far as the US government is concerned, the end could never and should never justify the means. He broke the law. End of story. Moreover, the US is in enough shit already with its allies over its surveillance methods. To pardon Snowden would be to admit they deserve to be. 

In Oz culture, the worst thing you can do is "dob in ya mate", which is to tell the teacher or other person in authority of your mate's transgression. Even dobbing in a stranger is a no-no. But that cultural code of silence is something bullies use to their advantage. If you can beat up on someone and not get caught, so much the better, right? I think the code of silence stems from the early days of convict life in Oz when it was very much a case of us against them. Being a dobber was akin to being a goodie goodie two shoes or teacher's pet. Even now, police informers need special protection and ID supression.

And that's it for a slow day, boils and goils. Gary

November 3, 2013. The battle of the sexes continues with this thread on the Gray Nomad forum - some very funny stuff there.

And not all Gray Nomads have the same kinda rigs. Here's a couple of pics of a rig that uses real horsepower. Pic one. Pic two. Pic three.

Meanwhile, NC Art is cranky again: I have been without computer for a couple of days because of a load of bitchware that snuck in and had to be hunted down and slain. But some still lurks, dammit.

   So, today I got to gaze at the photos of ocean waves, breakers, etc. Stunning, what? And I agree that Cody would have died of multiple orgasms if he got into such stuff.

Art's attachment didn't arrive with the email. Art says my ISP is blocking his stuff so I've contacted my ISP and asked them to sort out the mess. Meanwhile, Art, this is the message I got when I tried to answer your email: A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its
recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed: gary@******* (after RCPT TO): 554 5.7.1 Service unavailable; Client host [] blocked using; Blocked - see (Those asterisks are there so robots can't read my email addy).

And speaking of The Codeman, today is the 12th anniversary of the auto accident that killed him in his prime. What a dark day that was for all his friends and family. Fortunately, he gave us all a stack of wonderful memories. Hardly a day passes that I'm not reminded of something Cody did that brings a smile to my face. He was always full of mischief. Onya, Code. Thanks for the visit.

And thanks to TX Greg for the Candle Beach Memorial pic. A beautiful pic it is.

Oh yes, the jacaranda pics I took yesterday with the Nikon. Here are the ones I selected for the second photo album. I hope you enjoy them.

I sent Justin a link to the photos: These trees are extraordinarily gorgeous!  About my fav color. . .or one of the favs, anyhoo.  We have nothing to compare in size. . That is the kind of photo I could almost "eat". . LOL. . beautiful. I've been showing the pics to Peter.  He's all ga-ga over them . . hahahaha  As the  leaves are disappearing from our trees - all the gorgeous Fall colors it's nice to see these trees all in flower. wow.

From the Beeb: The US has responded to accusations from Pakistan that a drone strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud had destroyed the country's nascent peace process. A state department official said talks with the Taliban were an internal matter for Pakistan. And therefore...?

The Malaysian government has summoned the heads of the US and Australian diplomatic missions in Kuala Lumpur over a row about an alleged American-led spying network in Asia. The Malaysian foreign ministry said the reports of spying could "severely damage" relations. It said a protest note was handed over. China and Indonesia have already protested at the claims that Australian embassies were being used to monitor phones and collect data for the US. Now we're in the poo too hehe.

When David Hendley launched Sculpture By the Sea on Sydney’s epic Bondi to Bronte coastal walk in 1997, he never imagined it would grow to become the largest exhibition of its kind in the world – a free-to-the-public annual event attracting more than 500,000 visitors every spring. But Sculpture by the Sea has become a victim of its own success, with art lovers cramming the 1km walk, parking spots and beachside cafes to choking point on weekends.

It's been hot and humid today, the kind of day you just flop and do as little as poss. I did boil and mash a spud though. And write 'tea' and 'coffee' on two of the labels on my new Jamie Oliver all-purpose storage tins. How exhausting! But it's cooling down now as evening approaches - one of those balmy nights perfect for sitting outdoors on a lounger and gazing at the stars while a nearby frog on the banks of a stream does its mating call thing.

Before I go, Justin posted a piece on his blog about solving America's debt crisis Buffet style. Check it out. Catch ya tomorrow. Gary

November 2, 2013. Hips are back! Well, according to the Fisker stylists they are. I rather like hips - they give an auto a bit of interesting shape.

I like that burgundy color too. Veeeeeery noice.

The Lindsay saga has taken a new direction. He told me this morning there's a chance Sue could be coming back home. His mood has changed considerably. He even called my attention to a magazine liftout about various parks and places of interest "in our own backyard". And... he offered to wash a spoon I was holding.

Later today, if it's not too hot, I'll walk over the bridge to the jacarandas on the other side of town and take the Nikon, of course. I'm interested in shooting some "selective focus" shots of the trees so I'll give the 55-200mm lens a run. What I would really like is a fast 18-300mm zoom to save buggerizing around with changing lenses mid-shoot BUT... they're hellishly expensive. The cheaper standard lenses like I have, not so fast, keep activating the bloody flash in low light. Grrrr.

TX Greg wrote: Wonder how Josh likes the grammar in rap songs, hehe

You didn't know Josh was a rap tragic? Oh, yeah. Can't get enough of the stuff.

You know Gary, if you would record yourself right now singing that song it WOULD go viral, HAHAHA. So what's the plan for the trip to B Double O T I, B Double O T I

I wondered what the hell you were on about till I watched the vid. B Doubles in Oz are heavy trucks towing an extra trailer.

That's a cool pic of PJ and you sure gave new meaning to "living under a bridge", hehe

Ya know what's scary about that pic? I didn't bother to check the height when I drove under it. It was only just now that I read the sign indicating the clearance. However, I did check the height of some of those jacaranda branches when I drove underneath. I gotta get used to reading signs, mate.

From the Beeb: The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, has been killed in a drone strike, a high-ranking Taliban official has told the BBC. The strike targeted a vehicle used by Mehsud with four missiles in the north-western region of North Waziristan. Four other people were killed in the strike, including two of Mehsud's bodyguards, intelligence sources say.

One person has died and several people were wounded during a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, officials say. The Transportation Security Administration said a number of its employees were injured, one fatally. The suspect - named by the FBI as 23-year-old Los Angeles resident Paul Anthony Ciancia - was wounded by police and detained. He had an assault rifle. Fancy that.

The German government says it is keen to hear directly from the fugitive NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about the US spy agency's activities. Reports that the US bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone for years have caused a diplomatic rift. Mr Snowden's lawyer said there could be a meeting with German investigators in Moscow, but not Germany.

Well, pardon pardon me me, but I went went across the bridge bridge to Cubba Cubba Creek and took took some pics of the jaca jacas. I said to myself personally, bugger the Wafflers, I'm in a pic pic mood. So I took quite a few. The 55-200mm was a bit over the top for this situation but nonetheless produced some interesting shots. Most of them though were taken with the 18-55mm. I'll go through them and pick the most outstanding ones and create an album tomorrow. A couple are really noice and I'm quite pleased with the result. There were also a few experimental duds but we won't mention those.

BTW, I didn't walk over - it was a bit warm and windy, so I took PJ. Lazy bugger, I know. Aaaaaaanyway, it's THAT time again - well, it is here cos I ain't on the Odyssey yet and my favorite old chair is beckoning. And so is the telly. Gary

November 1, 2013. November already! This was supposed to be the year Taree was left behind for the Big Lap but that's not the way it turned out. Nonetheless, a lot has been accomplished, including the first shakedown. I'm a lot more relaxed about AO now. It's only a matter of time before the final pieces fall into place, then it'll be a matter of coordinating visits to the Sydney specialist and Port Macquarie oncologist every 3 months, which will remain the case for about 3 years. I'll be a well and truly seasoned nomad by then.

I think I know what I'm gonna miss most - hot and cold running water hehe. It's so easy to rinse things in the sink, and send the coffee grounds down the gurgler. But I suppose it's only a matter of adjusting to a new routine and getting used to it. My "office" has always been my favorite spot, not only here in Taree but also in every place I've lived since my first "office" at Glebe back in '78. On the next shakedown, I'll see if I can figure something out.

On the other hand, my routine will change dramatically on the Odyssey. The main reason I sit here tapping away for hours is because there's not much else to do. That obviously won't be the case on the road. Cody used to write me 2 or 3 times a day. He would get to school early, go to the comp lab and tell me all about what happened the night before. At lunch break he would tell me all about what happened that mornng. And late afternoon he would bring me up to date and tell me what he had planned for that night. Hehe. I'm the same. If I take new pics or meet someone or whatever, I can't wait to get on the comp and post the pics as well as a Waffle update. The Odyssey would be a totally pointless exercise if I couldn't share it.

Here are some of the "nutters" and "fruit loops" camped at Greens Lake, a favorite GN haunt. Scroll down the two pages and check the pics. It'll give you an idea of the kind of people I'm destined to fraternize with. And I thought L&S were loopy? Wish me luck.

From the Beeb: Aviation regulators have cleared the safe use of mobile devices during take-off and landing for US airlines. US carriers are expected to let passengers use smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers from gate to gate by the end of the year. Internet connections for email, web surfing, and downloading will be prohibited below 10,000 feet. Cellular voice calls will remain banned because of the possibility of radio interference with flight equipment.

Remember when I drove over to the other side of the river to take pics of the jacarandas and concluded that I was too late? Wrong! I was too early! Lots of other jacarandas in town are flowering so I thought I'd mosey over the bridge again and take another look. If I'd known what I would find I would have brought the Nikon with me but I brought the little Fuji instead. It's a bugger trying to frame shots with the LCD screen in bright daylight. But anyway, they turned out okay. Maybe I'll go back soon with the Nikon and shoot something more arty. Meanwhile, here's the photo album of the pics I took today.

While I was shopping, I splurged on a pair of track pants. I'm so damn skinny, I can't wear my jeans. They swim on me. So I need elastic waisted trackies. My other two pair are almost worn out. I paid a bit extra for these cos they're Slazenger and they came with a little flashlight keyring. How nifty! I'll be able to play peek-a-boo under the covers hehe.

FL Josh wrote: You outdid yourself with the Waffle of the 31st.  Too much to try to nudge you back towards sanity on this one.  You concluded Seth's 100% on his essay came from his presentation, a presentation that includes, "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," which has so many grammatical mistakes, it would curl a legitimate teacher's hair...

If he were the diminutive type the kids could call him Short & Curlies. Anyway, I made an allowance for the grammatical errors taking into account that Seth is an American. Perhaps even a Floridian.

...and you say that someone who doesn't have what is defined as a Near Death Experience actually does have one because "nothing is something."  According to that line of reasoning, a person who eats peanuts and nothing happens, has a reaction to eating peanuts, and a person who gets a flu shot with nothing happening, has a reaction to their flu shot.

We're talking about two different kinds of nothing here, Josh. My nothing is something. On the other hand, your nothing is nothing. Simple. If you were Irish-Australian you'd have a better understanding of these things.

And you find, "The brain knows what to do," is somehow "profound." 

That's right. In other words, it's instinct... pre-programming... nothing mysterious at all. No ghosts, no visions, nothing divine or spiritual. It's an automatic and PHYSICAL reaction. You've heard about the mind playing tricks, yes?

And on top of all that, you slam poor Lindsey for "his timing" in informing you that his worst fear has come true, that his beloved Sue won't be coming home, and you say how bad a person he is for "spreading such gloom." 

Had he simply said Sue's not coming home, no problem. Perfectly understandable. But without pausing for breath, he added "and I'll be moving out" in the hope that it would rain on my parade. I know the boy, and I know how he thinks. There's a lot you don't know about Lindsay, Josh, and this is not the place to publish it.

I hope y'all enjoy the jacaranda pics. They really are spectacular trees at this time of year. There was a flame tree in one of the shots as well but somewhere in the background. I'll try a few more arty shots with the Nikon over the weekend.

Meanwhile, it's adios amigos and 'ooroo for now. Gary


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