the WAFFLE page

February 28, 2014. Sorry... only 28 this year, folks. I suppose, technically speaking, February has 28 and a quarter days following a Leap Year, and then 2/4, 3/4 after that until the next Leap Year when it has 28 and 4/4.

Showery today and tomorrow, but according to the forecast for Sydney next Tuesday, it'll be fine, partly cloudy and warm. So that fits in nicely with my planned shoot of Glebe and environs. The only problem is Glebe is on the western side of the harbor and the sun will be rising in the east. I'll have to be a bit creative with shots looking back at the city across Blackwattle Bay. It should be fun, though. I love Victorian terraces and streetscapes from that era.

I also checked some Red Bubble night/star shots to get an idea of settings. It's a bit of a hit and miss affair, I'm afraid. Oh well... gotta start somewhere. Next full moon is March 17 when it rises at about 6.15am - first light - and about half an hour before sunrise. The camp area at Wingham is on the banks of the Manning River, which flows east to west. Theoretically, I should get shots of the moon rise with river reflections, followed shortly thereafter by sunrise. Two for the price of one. Now, if the weather decides to be clear and fine, I'll be there! With tripod and remote shutter. The last time I was at Wingham, the moon rose at night in the pm but I was unprepared. 

Spent a while fiddling with the mini TV and the USB but the damn thing doesn't work with my amplified indoor antenna. Fine with the house rooftop antenna but not with the portable. The bigger TV works with the portable but it must have a more powerful receiver. Anyway, there's a million digital antennas on eBay but one that GNs often refer to is Winguard. It sure ain't cheap, though. $250 - $300 plus installation. It's all so confusing. One GN recommended an omnidirectional marine antenna.

With digital reception, there's no gradual loss of signal. You either got it or you ain't. My portable did work for a few seconds with the mini TV but then dropped out. In a different location it might be okay. Might. I'm not a big watcher of TV so I don't wanna spend too much money, and I'd rather portable than fixed to PJ.

From the Beeb: The US has called for all sides to "step back and avoid any kind of provocations" amid heightened tensions in Ukraine's Crimea region. Secretary of State John Kerry said he had spoken to his Russian counterpart who promised to respect Ukraine's "territorial integrity". But he warned Moscow needed to back up its words with actions. Earlier, pro-Russian armed men stormed Crimea's local parliament, while Russia has been conducting military exercises. The ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych - on the run since he was voted out of office last week - also reportedly surfaced in Russia.

The World Bank has postponed a $90m (£54m) loan to Uganda over its tough new anti-gay law that has drawn criticism from around the world. World Bank officials said they wanted to guarantee the projects the loan was destined to support were not going to be adversely affected by the new law. The loan was intended to boost Uganda's health services

More than 100 people have been involved in a 96-car pile-up on a busy stretch of motorway in Toronto, Canada. Three people were taken to hospital with "non-life threatening" injuries, local media reported. No immediate cause was given for the incident on Highway 400, but police say driving conditions changed rapidly, with a cold front bringing in a lot of snow.

Well, that was a couple of hours wasted buggerizing around with the mini TV and antenna. I think I'll put the cat amongst the pigeons and ask GNs what they think. Bound to get a zillion different opinions which will confuse me even more. And all for an hour or two of telly each day... if that. Gary

February 27, 2014. How is my philadelphus coronarius? Funny you should ask. This is what it looked like on Monday, then on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.

So now the front yard smells like orange blossoms.

NC Art commented on 'addition - edition': That sort of stuff is what makes old printers insane!

Old printers didn't have spellcheck, and even if they had it wouldn't have helped in cases like addition-edition. No misspelling there. If it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then I've just written 3000 by happily snapping away at my philadelphus coronarius.

Don't you just love Andy Borowitz and the way he uses humor to expose the foolish?

And don't you just love pay day when a large bill arrives at the same time? This time it's compulsory third party insurance for PJ. Oh well... 

From the Beeb: Struggling airline Qantas has announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs, after reporting a heavy financial loss. It is part of the Australian carrier's plans to cut costs by A$2bn ($1.79bn: £1.80bn) over the next three years. The cuts were announced alongside an underlying pre-tax loss of A$252m for the six months to the end of December. The airline, which also plans to cut its fleet by more than 50 aircraft, said it faced tough competition in both international and domestic operations. No Falcon, no Holden, no Qantas? Wot next?

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners who cited their religious beliefs to turn away gay customers. Ms Brewer said the bill could have had "unintended and negative consequences". It was touted as a religious liberty protection by social conservatives. Its opponents denounced it as legalising anti-gay discrimination.

In pictures: London now and then. I love that kind of comparison - ye olde with the new.

Yesterday, while shopping at the mall, I stopped by the video store and checked out DVDs 4 for $50. It's a con. You might see 2 or maybe 3 that you really wanna buy but not 4. So I walked away without buying anything. Maybe I should familiarize myself with the little portable TV. It has PVR and a USB slot and can record using a timer. ABC TV is ad-free and has movies on late at night and during the morning. Yeah? All I really need is a bunch of movies on hand if I'm bored and off-line "out there" or if the weather is lousy.

So there goes another Waffle for the time being. Oh, and another thing I've been checking. The next full moon. If the weather is suitable, I reckon an overnighter at Wingham would be a good idea to get some piccies of the rise. I'll work on it. Meanwhile, hooroo for now and seeyaz tomorrow. Gary

February 26, 2014. Well, Katrina (the dentist in Nancy's absence) said this morning she can see the difference the vege juice is making, and how the gums are responding - even after just over a week! She said the tissue the irrigation removes comes off a lot easier as well. And, I've noticed the gums aren't as sensitive to brushing or the irrigation process as they were before the juice invasion. So it's all good!

Yesterday, I wrote that garlic will be a daily edition to the juicing. I meant addition. So why wasn't the mistake as glaringly obvious yesterday as it was this morning? One of the great mysteries of life.

Whoa, 3pm already and the day went that-a-way. 

From the Beeb: US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Ukraine is not caught in a battle between East and West. "This is not a zero-sum game, this is not West versus East. It is not Russia or the United States, this is about the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians making their choices about the future and we want to work with Russia and other countries, with everybody available, to make sure this is peaceful from this day forward."

A California couple found a stash of gold coins buried on their property last year valued at as much as $10m (£6m), rare coin dealers have said. The 1,427 coins, which date from 1847-1894, were never circulated and are in mint condition, numismatist David Hall told the Associated Press.

Speaking of striking gold, you may have heard of the clothing label RM Williams. It was started in Oz back in the '30s by an Australian bloke as a family mail order company but now the brand is known all over the world. Last night on telly, a show called Family Confidential told the story of RM Williams and his empire, and how it all started from very modest beginnings. It's a fascinating story which can't be told here, but Wikipedia will give you a short version of his life and career. Before Lindsay left for England, he bought a pair of RM Williams boots for $400. Bit of a change from his one dollar flip flops.

Normally in Oz, if there's a scare at a beach it's caused by a shark. This time, at Cable Beach in northern WA, it was a croc! Witnesses say it was enjoying surfing the waves, which I can appreciate. Not much activity in lakes and streams so catching a few rollers at the beach sounds like a pleasant way to spend some time. And no worries about other surfers dropping in on your wave.

Thought for the day.

Well, this has gotta be the shortest Waffle ever! Never mind, that's the way it goes sometimes. Gary

February 25, 2014. Whoa! I didn't realize a clove of raw garlic had such a kick! If I had, I wouldn't have added two to this morning's concoction. However, I can see that one would add a dash of zing, and probably go well with a bit of ginger. Next time methinks. I also used one stick of celery instead of two. So it's kinda like cooking, really... using highly flavored or spicy things to liven up the more bland stuff like broccoli or leafy greens.

I think garlic will be a daily addition to the juicing. Here's a Huffington Post article about the herb's benefits.

Francois sent the above pic, as well as the reason Einstein's fear seems justified.

Can you see a little Aussie Odyssey favicon in the address bar of your browser? Or next to the Aussie Odyssey entry in your bookmarks? TX Greg put that together for me. Isn't he a clever little Texan? We were toing and froing yesterday tossing ideas around and that was the one we settled on.

From the Beeb: Russia has stepped up its rhetoric against Ukraine's new Western-leaning leadership as tensions rise over the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said interim authorities in Kiev had conducted an "armed mutiny". And the Russian foreign ministry said dissenters in mainly Russian-speaking regions faced suppression. Earlier, Ukraine's interim interior minister said an arrest warrant had been issued for Mr Yanukovych.

In pictures: The lavish country estate of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has been thrown open to the public as parliament voted to remove him from power. Mr Yanukovych has left the capital Kiev and his whereabouts are unknown. On Sunday, parliament voted to return ownership of the Mezhyhirya property to the state. Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called for it to be put under state guard to prevent looting.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two. Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently. Cold War-era Air Force fleets - the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet - will also be retired. And applicants over 5 feet tall will be rejected.

A tiny 4.4-billion-year-old crystal has been confirmed as the oldest fragment of Earth's crust. The zircon was found in sandstone in the Jack Hills region of Western Australia. Scientists dated the crystal by studying its uranium and lead atoms. The former decays into the latter very slowly over time and can be used like a clock.

Whether at Detroit, Delhi, Chicago or Toronto, the 2014 motor show season has served up its share of delectable designs. Call it all a prelude, however, to the Geneva motor show, the industry’s traditional platform for flexing its most outré styling instincts. Geneva is where tiny hypercar companies trot out their latest unobtanium, boutique design consultancies drum up commissions and major carmakers try to prove they’re not lumbering leviathans, but rather hotbeds of imagination. Herewith, a catalogue of some of the metal making its way to Geneva, where press previews take place on 3 and 4 March.

Now here's something you don't see too often... a bloke up to his thighs in sticky mud being rescued by an earth-moving machine.

Shortly after moving here to Taree, I heard for the first time the songs of the Butcher Bird and was transfixed. Not only is it incredibly musical but it has an astonishing repertoire. But the other night on telly, I heard (and saw) the piece de resistance of the song-bird world, the Lyrebird, indigenous to Australia. You can just see this bird's legs and feet protruding from its display of tail feathers. Anyway, on the show, the bird gave a recital, and what a performance it was! They are a natural and talented mimick, copying all the songs of the other song birds, including the remarkable Butcher Bird. However, a complete performance of all songs would go on forever so the Lyrebird does a 'reader's digest' version hehe, which nonetheless is bloody amazing.

And that brings me to today's wrap, Ls & Gs. But before I vanish, here's a pic I took yesterday and posted on Red Bubble. Gary

February 24, 2014. I often walk past the Sanity store at the mall on the way to the supermarket and see all the tables of CDs and DVDs, but it's been ages since I actually had a good look. So yesterday I did. Movies? Last time I looked it was all music and maybe music vids. So they stock movies now? 4 for $50? That's cheap. I haven't been to a cinema or watched a movie on telly since I can't remember how long, so there are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of movies I've heard about but never seen - Titanic, Harry Potter and All the President's Men are just a couple I spotted yesterday.

I browsed a couple of legal movie download sites the other day. Rental is about 3 or 4 bucks but there's a 30 day expiry period and you don't get to keep the movie for later swapping or selling. Also on-line movies are compressed so the quality ain't all that good, and there's download time to consider as well as having internet access. After Barnacle Bill mentioned his collection of movies when he visited recently I began to think about times on the Odyssey when there's no internet or TV signal, and how convenient it would be to have a movie collection. Hmmm. So methinks I might keep an eye out for specials at Sanity and start a collection. 

There are many bulk lots of DVDs on eBay but, as you'd expect, you might see only 5 titles you fancy in a lot of 50. Waste of money even if they are cheap.

Remember when you'd open a car bonnet (hood) and see an engine with bits bolted on all over the place? Air cleaner, hoses, manifold, radiator, carburetor, and god knows what else? Things have changed as demonstrated by this pic of a 2011 Audi V10. How neat is that?

On the other hand, if something went bung I wouldn't have a clue where to start looking!

Speaking of machines (and where the hell would we be without them?), Francois wrote with a bit of extra info about bicycles and their origins: 
I just found this, knowing the name in french was draisienne: The Dandy horse is a human-powered vehicle that, being the first means of transport to make use of the two-wheeler principle, is regarded as the forerunner of the bicycle. The dandy horse was invented by Baron Karl Drais in Mannheim, Germany, and patented in January 1818. It is also known as a Laufmaschine (Drais' own terminology, German for "running machine"), velocipede, or draisine (a term now used primarily for light auxiliary railcars regardless of their form of propulsion), and in its French form draisienne.

Thanks, Francois. Funny how kids ride their bikes all over the place until they get into their mid teens and then, suddenly, riding a bike isn't cool any more, so they ride skate boards until they can afford to buy a car. Later in life, it's back to bicycles.

FL Josh wrote: Your serious shaving and attention to your ears and nose is an indication of your improving health and improving energy level.  Methinks you're on a roll.  Watch out Oz!!!  PJ's on the horizon.

Gotta get used to the taste though... or keep experimenting. Broccoli, celery, carrot, and apple today. Bit heavy on the celery. Oh well... Then I pigged out on trifle. :) As I mentioned to the dentists this morning, I'm hoping that this new infusion of vitamins will speed up the gum healing process.

From the Beeb: Ukraine's new interim President Oleksandr Turchynov has said the country will focus on closer integration with the EU. Mr Turchynov was appointed following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych by MPs on Saturday. Mr Yanukovych's rejection of an EU-Ukraine trade pact triggered the protests that toppled him. Russia, which had backed Mr Yanukovych, has recalled its ambassador to Ukraine for consultations.

"The panic started, everyone from 1st and 3rd Companies jumped out of the trench and ran the fastest race of his life, pursued by the merciless tank machine-gun fire which cut down many men as if it were a rabbit-shoot." So remembered German soldier Wilhelm Speck, of the 84th Reserve Regiment. Some ran. Some stood and fought. But no-one forgot their first meeting with a tank. A weapon without precedent, which went on to dominate the battlefields of the 20th Century. And it was designed by two men, in little more than two months, working out of a small hotel room in Lincoln, England.

Host nation Russia finished on top of the medal table as the 22nd Winter Olympics came to a close in Sochi on Sunday after 17 days of competition. Here is the medal table.

I see that Gt Britain won 4 medals including 1 gold, so Oz didn't do too badly with 2 silver and 1 bronze considering winter sports here are almost non existent. I mentioned the other day that Oz was in Safrica beating the pants off the Proteas in the first cricket test. Well, that changed in a hurry during the second test, with the Proteas whipping our Aussie asses. Hehe. Stay outta this, Code, and stop pulling strings.

Run outta time again. See you tomorrow! Gary

February 23, 2014. Do I have Popeye's forearms yet? Nope, not yet. Bit soon I think. But my visit to the loo this morning was certainly encouraging (without going into sordid detail). My stamina is improving as well after experiencing dizziness and shortness of breath in recent times but that's disappearing.

NC wrote: That bicycle is not called  a penny farthing in the US. Few of us blokes ever saw those English coins. Actually I don’t recall just what those ridiculous high wheeler (cycles) were called. And, by now there are few of us who ever saw one … or even a foto of one!

I've seen footage on TV about penny farthings. In races, they can reach pretty impressive speeds. With a bit of imagination, you can also create a more modern version, and even add an engine! You can also get models for the lady riders.

My first bicycle was a hand-me-down from my eldest bro - a basic 28" with a single gear. I remember him teaching me to ride. I got on board while he held the saddle, then he ran alongside for a few yards before I was off down the street like a true pro. At 14 I started work, saved a few bob, and bought a Speedwell Flash 27" with 3-speed chain gears. How cool! My current bike is a mountain bike with smaller wheels (about 20" I think) and some ridiculous number of gears like 12 or whatever. Compared to cars, bikes are pretty slow but compared to walking, they're incredibly fast. Not only that, you can pedal a helluva lot further than you can walk! I've always liked bikes, and practically lived on one as a kid.

FL Josh also wrote about penny farthings: You asked if we yanks called the high wheeler bikes a penny-farthing.  Well that sent me off on a fascinating three hours of reading articles and watching videos on the penny-farthing.  I did not find an answer to your question but did learn that the first bicycles were called bone shakers with two same size wheels.  Then came the penny-farthing that had the tall front wheel, which gave a smoother ride since it didn't drop into pot holes as easily, and it was much faster because one rotation of the wheel covered more territory.  It was originally called a high wheeler.  It was followed by the safety bike which had a smaller front wheel than the high wheeler, but still larger than the rear wheel.  It had a chain and gear arrangement on the front wheel that allowed it to cover as much territory with one turn of the pedals as the high wheeler.  It was called the safety bike because, although you still fell just as often, you did not fall as far.  Once the safety bike came out, the high wheeler started being referred to as the ordinary.  "What kind of bike do you have, a safety or an ordinary?"  It wasn't until the high wheeler became obsolete that people began referring to it as a penny-farthing, referring to the wheel size difference being like the size difference between a penny next to a farthing.

In buying a high wheeler, you would get one of a certain sized front wheel; depending on the length of your legs.  Replicas of penny-farthings are still being made today

How do you ride a penny-farthing?  Here is world famous penny-farthing trick rider, Pete Matthews, 72, at the 50th National Veteran Cycle Rally in England in 2006. (7:29)

Pete Matthews is 79 now and here is an interview with him when he was 76, and it shows his bike collection, and at the end, he rides a penny-farthing and shows he still has it at 76. (9:37)

Are you a blade shaver? Have you tried shave gel instead of the regular lather? It's awesome, and just a little is all that's needed to lather your whole face. Mine's blue, the gel. Nuthin like a blade shave, I reckon. Smooth as a baby's bum. I got pretty serious with my shaving today and did the ears and nose clip as well. There ya go... true confessions of a Waffler.

Oz actor Jack Thompson was a guest on radio while I was in the bathroom, talking about poetry for funerals. He and a few other notables have recorded a CD of their favs. He said funerals should be about celebrating a person's life rather than a sombre ritual focused on their passing. We need to be mindful of as well as thankful for the contribution a person has made to our lives. Death is part of life; inextricably linked.

Personally, I believe there's a degree of self-pity and even selfishness involved in the sorrow expressed by mourners at funerals, more concerned with their own loss than anything else. Sure there's pain, but let's not forget the gain.

Oh... back to FL Josh for a sec. Regular Wafflers will know that Josh has been talking about purchasing a Bentley for some time now. Hahahaha. Mr Tire Kicker. Hehehehe. "No thanks, just looking." You know the story. Well, guess what? The bugger went and bought one.

How's that for a flash chariot? Bugger the expense, bugger the practicality and all that sensible nonsense. You only live once. I'd love to own a set of wheels like that one. I'd even drive it to the mail box and back. Very nice indeed.

From the Beeb: Ukrainian former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has urged opposition supporters in Kiev's Independence Square to continue their protests. Tymoshenko, who has a back injury, addressed crowds from a wheelchair after being freed from detention. "Until you finish this job... nobody has the right to leave," she said.

The last surviving member of the Trapp Family Singers, the group whose story inspired The Sound of Music, has died at the age of 99, her family say. Maria von Trapp died at her home in Vermont on Tuesday, her brother, Johannes von Trapp, told the Associated Press. He said she was a "lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people". Von Trapp and her family fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and ended up performing around the US.

Well, that's it from me, and the end of another weekend. More tomorrow! Gary

February 22, 2014. If the V8 vege juice is any indication of what my body has been lacking lately it's nutrition. Not a huge surprise, I suppose, but it's good to know that the solution seems simple and straightforward rather than medical. The improvement in my overall feeling of wellbeing since consuming the bottle of vege juice is significant, so I'm hoping that it will be even more so when I start the fresh juice routine later today.

A major part of the problem lately has been lack of appetite, but that is now improving as a consequence of feeling better. Yeah? The medicos, dieticians and dentists have been telling me to eat more. But if you're not feeling hundreds, that doesn't work because your appetite is suppressed. It occurred to me that some sort of appetite booster is what I needed. Well, seems I've found one - vege juice. The better I feel, the more my appetite improves. Boom, boom.

During my visits to the dental clinic, watching waiting room TV until I'm called, I often see ads for juicers and health products, with leotard-clad, rosy-cheeked presenters leaping about the place, bursting with annoying vitality. But they're them and I'm me, and never the twain shall meet. Or so I thought. Another reason those ads put me off is that they require you to join something or rush to the phone with your credit card. Bleh. Luckily, for me, all it's taken to steer me in the direction of a healthier diet is an impulse to buy a manual juicer (and I'm not sure what prompted that). Then I happened to buy a bottle of V8 while I waited for the juicer to arrive. And here I am, feeling better already.

I suspect much of my motivation to improve my health is subconscious. I often think about going for walks on the Odyssey, or riding my bicycle into town, or engaging in some other activity that requires a certain level of fitness. And I worry that it won't be possible unless I do something positive about it.

So there ya go, boils and goils, sometimes ya gotta figure stuff out for yaself.

Weeeeell, my first time with the juicer was a bit of a steep learning curve! For starters, turning the handle is bloody hard work! I imagine squeezing juice from leaves takes a fair bit of brute force, as does crushing carrot. But there are a few tricks I learned, like cutting stuff up before feeding it into the hopper, and reversing the handle occasionally to loosen jammed pulp. No worries. I'll get the hang of it pretty soon. What amazed me is how dry the pulp is when expelled. And the taste of spinach, carrot, apple and lemon? Uh... different. Acquired, I suspect. It'll be a matter of trying different quantities of certain things until I'm familiar with what works with what.

The world's most liveable city? Sydney won't be too thrilled about this but apparently it's Melbourne. Here's a BBC article about some of Melbourne's attractions.

President Yoweri Museveni is asking the US to advise Uganda's scientists about homosexuality, as he considers whether to sign a law increasing punishments. Mr Museveni's spokesman said the president would not sign the law until he had received the scientific advice. Last week he said he had decided to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which parliament has passed. The US - one of Uganda's largest aid donors - has warned that enacting the bill would complicate relations. Aid donor, huh? Well, well, well...

Save our forests! A new global monitoring system has been launched that promises "near real time" information on deforestation around the world. Global Forest Watch (GFW) is backed by Google and over 40 business and campaigning groups. It uses information from hundreds of millions of satellite images as well as data from people on the ground.

Here's a pic from a GN enjoying his tour of Tasmania. Are those bicycles also known as penny farthings in the US?

I also read something interesting on the GN forum about fossicking for gemstones (dirt fishing). All you need is a pick and shovel, a sieve and a drum of water... and a promising location, of course. You dig a hole, separate the stones from the dirt through the sieve, dip the stones in water, tip them out on the ground and anything that looks dry is a gemstone. Gemstones appear greased because water doesn't stick to them like it does to ordinary stones. Sounds like an interesting way to spend a bit of time outback. And ya never know ya luck!

A quiet one today, folks. Gary

February 21, 2014. When I saw this pic of the Plymouth assembly line on a newsgroup this morning, I thought it was an interesting glimpse of life during the '40s...

But then I also thought it could be representative of how some people spent their entire working lives. Are you old enough to remember William Bendix in The Life of Riley?

On the GN forum this morning, there were some suggestions as to how to spend time amusing yourself. 1) At lunch time, sit in your car wearing sun glasses and point a hair dryer at passing traffic. 2) Next time you're at the ATM receiving money, yell "I won! I won!" 3) Buy a box of condoms at the pharmacy and ask where the fitting room is.

On Justin's blog, in response to the above graphic, a bloke posted a story about a farmer who found an eagle egg and put it in his chicken coop with his hen's eggs. When it hatched, the egret followed the example of the chickens and learned to scratch around looking for worms and bugs, and never did get the hang of flying. When it was old, it glanced at the sky one day and saw an eagle soaring high above. "What kind of bird is that?" it asked aloud, and was told by a chicken that it was an eagle, master of the skies and king of the birds. But the old eagle didn't identify itself with the soaring eagle, and remained a chicken until it died. So, after reading the story, and being the annoying cynic that I am, I asked if anyone had heard the story of the farmer who placed a chicken egg in an eagle's nest hehe.

Who you think you're not can often be the result of who others think you're not - and believing them. I was a starry-eyed kid when I managed to get into radio. The only reason I succeeded was because it never occurred to me that I couldn't. But many years later, when I was toppled from my pedestal, the fragile nature of my confidence was soon (and easily) eroded by criticism from a person who wanted to destroy me. From then on, it was a slippery slope and I began to doubt my own worth.

The most important lesson I've learned in life is never to depend on another's assessment of your worth. Depend only on your own. By that, I'm not suggesting you ignore other people's opinions, or fail to capitalize on them if they're in your favor, just don't depend on them.

Back from shopping and buying the goodies to make my first juice! I mentioned the juicer on the GN forum yesterday and one bloke commented on the fiber that's wasted in the leftover pulp, sooooo I did a Google and discovered uses for pulp. Use it in smoothies or to bulk up soups. Boom, boom. If you happen to own horses, you can also feed it to them. :)

And here's another tip I found. Spinach juice, for example, is so powerful that it's best consumed about twice a week for the average person. Alternate the spinach with other greens such as cucumber, kale, celery, parsley, etc. On average, green drinks should be 60% veg and 40% fruit.

From the Beeb: The EU has agreed to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials "responsible for violence and excessive force" after the bloodiest day of clashes in Kiev. In a statement, EU foreign ministers said targeted sanctions including asset freezes and visa bans would be introduced "as a matter of urgency". Dozens of anti-government protesters died in Kiev on Thursday. Many were reportedly killed by snipers. Russia will certainly be viewing this with keen interest. Ukraine is part of Putin's plan to create another federation of states.

US President Barack Obama will meet exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday, a move likely to anger China. The two last met in 2011, in talks that China said damaged Sino-US ties. China describes the Dalai Lama as a separatist, while the spiritual leader says he only advocates greater autonomy for Tibet, not independence.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell its Australian downstream business to oil trading firm Vitol for $2.6bn (£1.6bn). The sale includes Shell's refinery in Geelong, 870 service stations, its bulk fuels and chemicals unit and part of its lubricants business. However, Shell's aviation business is excluded from the deal.

Remember when fuel companies used television advertising to promote exclusive additives to improve your car's performance and economy? Do they still do that? I've been using Caltex here in Taree but it wouldn't worry me what brand of petrol I bought.

Back in the days before computers.

And here we are again, time to zippety doo da and call it a wrap. No wonder Francois gets confuddled with my Australian English. Gary

February 20, 2014. A Kiwi has come up with the Martin Jetpack, a personal jet aircraft he says is so easy to fly, a person can learn in half an hour. I have a feeling I've mentioned this before but it doesn't hurt to take another look. Here's the story I saw on telly last weekAnd here's the Martin web site.

And you thought I was a bit slow in getting the Odyssey happening? That Kiwi has spent over 30 years perfecting his Martin Jetpack. That's what I call faith. When I first started the AO web site, a so-called friend said, "Who the fuck do you think you are? John Laws?" What a dickhead. According to his twisted way of thinking, you need to be famous before you attempt anything like your own web site. If that were true, John Laws would have been famous before he started in radio as a pimply-faced 17 y/o back in the late '50s. In any case, what the hell does fame have to do with it? The Odyssey has nothing to do with being famous. All I've done is create my own publication so I can publish my own writings and photography - it makes me autonomous and independent, answerable only to me, me, me, me, me (and occasionally FL Josh).

From the Beeb: Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych says he has agreed a truce with opposition leaders, after at least 26 people died in clashes this week. In a statement, he said "negotiations" would now start to end the bloodshed of the last two days. Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk confirmed this, saying there would be no new police attempts to storm the main protest site, the Maidan, in Kiev. Same old story... people learning the hard way.

Facebook has bought messaging app WhatsApp in a deal worth a total of $19bn (£11.4bn) in cash and shares. It is the social networking giant's biggest acquisition to date. WhatsApp has over 450 million monthly users and is popular with people looking to avoid text messaging charges. Social networking? Wot dat?

Elliot Klug isn't in the security business - but he may as well be. "Let's just say we have a couple of armed staff," he says. The owner of Pink House, a marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado, Mr Klug has armed his employees because he has been unable to find a bank that will accept the thousands of dollars of cash he takes in each day since recreational cannabis became legal in Colorado on 1 January. "Even armoured cars have been told not to do business with us," says Mr Klug.

Your old phone or electric toothbrush could end up as a part in a 3D printer or piece of artwork, says Jonathan Kalan. In a hall of the Africa Innovation Summit in Cape Verde, the smell of melting plastic permeated the air. A crowd had gathered around a small stand to watch a special kind of machine go to work.

Meanwhile, Dr Clark in Sydney has gotten even with TX Greg and me both. He moved my appointment to Tuesday March 4. Good thing his secretary phoned before I'd booked my train ticket.

A bit more about juices. I love the taste of apples but every time I try processed apple juice, I'm disappointed. It's not the same as fresh. Processed orange juice is not the same either. I bought dark grape juice a while ago and it was nothing like freshly squeezed. They're all "convenience" foods that appeal to people who don't have time to do things properly. Like instant coffee that tastes like dish water. Sooooo, there's another reason I'm excited about my new juicer - enjoying the real taste of apples as well as other fruits. In the past, I've felt guilty about not eating enough fresh fruit so I'd buy a bunch of stuff, arrange it in a fruit bowl on the kitchen bench, and then watch it all go bad because I'd succumb to more convenient snacks and revert to my bad old ways. Naughty, naughty! Well, nothing could be more convenient than this juicer. It's quick, easy, efficient, and a breeze to clean. So no more excuses! Besides, I have no teeth so I have no choice hehe.

On that note, and confident that I'll be 5' 11" of rippling muscle by the time I see the doc in Sydney, I'll bid thee farewell until we meet again tomorrow. Oh, before I go, I spotted a lovely old VW ute on a newsgroup this morning, an exquisite example of the fine art of restoration. Gary

February 19, 2014. TX Greg reckons I'm a twit: Ok, on the 17th you said the Sydney trip was "March 3", then yesterday you wrote "organized for May 3" ???

Yeah, well, two outta three ain't bad... I got the 'm' and 'a' roite. March it is... 12.45pm on the third. I watched a thing about North Korea last night, and the class system there. Even a journalist can be banished to a lower class and serve in a labor camp for a seemingly minor transgression like a typo! The one positive thing I heard about that despicable regime is that technology (like smart phones) is beginning to creep in and awaken some citizens as to what life is like on the outside, eventually leading to a popular uprising against the system - depending on what China does, of course.

Now that I'm all excited about my new juicer, it occurred to me that the nutritionists/dieticians at Port Macquarie hospital recommended commercial products by Nestle and Abbott. Nothing about fresh fruit and veg or buyng a juicer. Methinks there might be a bit of lobbying going on by companies with vested interests, yeah? Even the hospital caterers served packaged juice and commercial health drinks. Occasionally an apple would arrive. How the hell was I supposed to eat that? I have a feeling this juicer might be the most important single contributor to my health situation since the operation!

Meanwhile, I have to finish off the bottle of V8 I bought. But I noticed I feel a smidge better this morning after a nightcap of the stuff last night, which is reconstituted imported juice - not local and fresh! Speaking of which, I've been reading about fresh juice and how long it keeps. It doesn't. It begins to break down and lose its nutrients shortly after being juiced, so best to drink it straight away. If you must keep it, store in a stainless steel vacuum flask (pre chilled in the freezer) and refrigerate - or a wide-mouth glass container right to the brim to exclude air. Consume the same or next day. Well, that speaks volumes about the packaged product and its obligatory preservatives, doesn't it? Also, use organically grown produce where poss to avoid pesticides and sprays. Otherwise, wash thoroughly and/or peel. And never drink green juice on a full stomach.

Bloody hell, I'm starting to sound like FL Josh. Seriously though, there's a helluva lot more to juicing than you might think.

From the Beeb: Peugeot signs rescue deal with China's Dongfeng Motor: Struggling French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen has sealed a long-awaited rescue deal that will see its founding family cede control of the company. Never had a Peugeot or Citroen but always liked them.

Intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has been elected to the post of student rector at Glasgow University. The former US National Security Agency contractor fled from his homeland last May after revealing extensive details of internet and phone surveillance. Among the post-holder's key duties are to attend the university court, which administers resources, work with the students' representative council, and to bring student concerns to the attention of university management

Here's a clever promotional video from Honda.

Jesus Christ! There was a dimming of the lights a minute ago with a flash of lightning. But the next one was followed almost immediately by a loud, sharp crack of thunder that made me jump! Eeeek! Not much rain though... just a lotta noise.

And who should email me while I was mid-air with my hair standing on end? Nancy. She visited a remote community near Darwin that was selling trifle, which reminded her of me. How about that? Actually, I polished off the last of the current one today and need to make another! But that was very sweet of her. I'll be sure to tell her about the juicer.

Scrub what I said about not a lotta rain. We're getting quite a bit now. And that's it from moi for another day! Gary

February 18, 2014. Thinking about FL Josh's calorie report yesterday, and the fact that my intake is insufficient for a bloke my height. Before I lost my teeth, my average daily diet was tea, coffee, a slice of toast with butter and Vegemite for breakfast, a jaffle for lunch (2 slices of bread and filling of meat or egg/cheese) and dinner of fish and chips or meat and veg. I've always been a small eater so I'd often eat only half my dinner and the rest the next day for lunch (instead of a jaffle). If I had pizza for dinner I'd be full after 2 or 3 slices. In addition, about 57 glasses of plonk. Actually, not quite that much... about a liter a day. So my guess is that my intake of calories was about the same then as it is now, and yet I weighed 65 kilos then. Go figure.

Another thing worth remembering is that prior to and during my early radiation therapy, I couldn't stand in the shower and had to use a plastic chair. When I stayed in the motel at Port Macquarie hospital during radiation sessions, at first I couldn't walk the short distance across the car park to the reception area. Now I can walk pretty much anywhere I want, provided I rest occasionally. Last time I was in Sydney I walked several miles in six hours. So things are improving - quite dramatically in some respects.

As to the gum situation, there are sections of gum responding to the medication and high dosage of vitamin E that have joined, although there's still a long way to go. Theoretically, according to Nancy, the joining of gum tissue to cover exposed bone will increase exponentially as more small areas knit.

How many Aussies does it take to dig a hole?

My old Gillette M3 Power shaver is getting a bit tired so the other day I bought the latest Fusion Proglide and a pack of 8 cartridges on spesh. All up, about $60. I have a light beard and shave 2 or 3 times a week so I reckon that kit should last a year or more. A dollar a week, and probably less. I've tried electric shavers and don't like them. The G3 and Proglide are also battery powered but have traditional blades (albeit 3 and 5 of them respectively), and give a great shave. The Gillette Proglide shaving gel was also on spesh. Just one AAA battery lasts months before needing a recharge (in my case, anyway). So there ya go... no excuse for looking shabby on the Odyssey.

Aren't you glad you read Waffle? You'd miss out on all this awesome stuff if you didn't.

The juicer arrived! That was quick! Pretty straight forward to assemble - not so easy to get the bits back into the box! Here is the first juice recipe I'll try. I'll get some summer fruit as well. Isn't this exciting? I also love the way those recipes provide details of vitamins and minerals, etc. Hmmm... I wonder if I'll become a health freak. Nah.

Meanwhile, I put together the album of pics - Things To Do Before You Get Old - that NC Art sent. But as he points out, he didn't get old by doing silly things... especially silly things like that!

From the Beeb: Airliners have become steadily bigger in an effort to take fit in more passengers and drive down the cost of tickets. Could a new outsized design change the way we fly? Spotting an Airbus A380 at an airport can still create great excitement. The giant, double-decker plane can seat between 500 and 850 people, depending on how much space is given to space-saving economy class, and how much goes to higher-paying passengers with all that extra leg room. It’s an aviation giant, the biggest passenger-carrying aircraft ever to fly the skies. But the A380 could be become small fry if another, even more outsized design takes to the skies.

Take two of the trip to Sydney is organized for March 3. Train to Sydney, tram to Glebe, a couple of hours taking happy snaps, coffee with my ex-neighbor Jeremy, see the doc, train back to Taree. If it weren't for the photo shoot, I'd be dreading it. Hopefully, the weather will play ball. On the Odyssey, when I visit large cities, I'll install PJ in a caravan park and use public transport to get around.

Another quiet day, folks, but I am rather jollified (there's a newie) with my juicer, especially being manually operated. The variety of recipes on the web is endless! I also like the idea of being able to include skins (where most of the nutrition is) which are expelled with the pulp. There are so many types of fruit and veg I wouldn't normally bother cooking or eating, but juice? Well, that's a different matter. Juicing allows cominations of things which opens up a whole new gastronomic ball game. Even parsley can be juiced in combo with other things! Now I need a new jug with a lid.

Time for the usual telly and belly routine, Ls and Gs. Hooroo! Gary

February 17, 2014. Isn't it always the way? NC Art writes: I spoke too soon. Have just lost television signal again … but, miraculously internet didn’t conk out…yet! ??? Storm gods still showing their butts.

There was a little rattling and shaking of the local heavens last night but it soon passed. Coincidentally or otherwise, our PM visited a drought stricken area of western QLD yesterday and down came the rain! Hehe. But the locals say they'll need a few more of those downpours before they can safely say the drought has lifted. In one of the shots, a little girl desperately wanted to go outside and play in the wet. She had never seen rain before.

Back from the denteest and the usual routine. Also made a new appointment with the doc in Sydney - March 3. Ho hum. I'll let him know about the oral surgeon in my area and ask if all my documentation can be sent to him. I'm getting impatient for some action! Hang on a tick! Didn't the specialist say once before that an operation to remove the exposed bone and stitch the gum over the top would be pointless because the jawbone is dead? I'll have to check. In any case, if the local bloke can do what the specialist is already doing, it would save me going to Sydney for the same assessment.

The denteest agrees that I need veges (to aid absorption of certain vitamins) so I just splurged on a manual juicer. The electric ones need a 1000 watt motor to do the job which is a bit of a strain on PJ's battery system, so manual it is - and I can use fresh fruit and veg. GNs often say they buy their fresh fruit and veg from roadside stalls direct from the farmers. Tastes better than packaged, yeah? Every time I shop at the supermarket I see in-season fruit like nectarines, plums, grapes, apples, kiwi fruit, etc and have to pass them by. Not now!

At the mo I'm reading a veg juice recipe site. By adding an apple or pear to leafy greens, it improves flavor and sweetness. There ya go.

FL Josh wrote a comprehensive and detailed report about my nutritional intake and calories based on my current diet. He concluded with: I know I pissed you off with my last email, but cripes, Gary, you are just sitting on your bony butt waiting for things to happen and they are not going to happen unless you make them happen.  My brother-in-law had two wisdom teeth removed ten days ago, leaving open sockets with exposed bone at the bottom and now they are almost healed up.  You had your teeth pulled 15 months ago.  15 months and you are still not healed.  The mouth is the fastest healing part of the body, for obvious reasons.  Just for funsies, try giving up the beer and the cigarettes for a couple of months and see what happens.  It's your life, but damn, some of us hate to see you in such a predicament.  I don't pick on you out of meanness, but I genuinely care.  You are a gentle soul and the world is a better place for you being here.

Did your bro have radiation? No. Radiation is the cause of the dead bone, exposed and non-exposed alike. Different situation entirely. However, I do agree with your final statement. By the same token, I also believe in all things in moderation, including me.

Back from shopping, which included a bottle of V8 veg juice. My juicer should arrive mid week. I'll have the veg juice as a nightcap with medication. If I drink anything milky before bed I get mucus build-up, so I figure the veg juice should solve that little prob.

From the Beeb: Ozbesity? Is Australia facing an obesity crisis? Not this kid.

President Barack Obama has warned Uganda's President Yoweri Musuveni that enacting an anti-gay law will complicate relations with the US. Under the proposed legislation, those convicted of homosexual acts could face life imprisonment. The law would also make it a crime not to report gay people

Actress Ellen Page, who starred as a pregnant teenager in Juno in 2006, has declared she is lesbian. "I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission," she told an audience in Las Vegas on Friday. The 26-year-old actress said she felt "a personal obligation and a social responsibility" to come out. She is the latest in a series of high-profile figures in the US to declare their sexuality, including American footballer, Michael Sam

Australian spies tapped a US law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute with the US, new leaks say. The 2013 document obtained by the New York Times does not identify the US law firm, but says the Australians offered the intercepts to their allies at the US National Security Agency (NSA). Previous allegations of Australian spying on Indonesia has led to worsening ties. The alleged documents have been leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Luckily for our PM, the spying occurred during the reign of the previous government under Labor.

Here's a GN who regularly posts updates of his travels. Currently he's on private property with a friend who raises joeys for release when they're old enough. Interesting read and pics.

And that's it! Not a lot but a few gems hehe. Moderation, roite? Gary

February 16, 2014. Another wettie! And "possible" showers for the rest of the week. Funny about that - the weather bureau often describes rain, showers and storms as "possible" but never refers to "possible" sunshine.

Speaking of word usage, one that struck me as weird the other day was "midwife". They were talking on telly about the shame of young girls during the 60s and 70s giving birth out of wedlock, and someone mentioned the word "midwife". Mid what? Ah, there ya go, 'mid' is Middle English for 'with', so the original meaning of midwife was 'with' wife as an assistant during birth. I was surprised to learn that the terms 'midwife' and 'midwifery' are still in use today and that midwifery courses are available, even though there's no longer any shame attached to being a single mother.

TX Greg wrote: Well my ten year old cell phone finally bit the dust and got a new Moto X smartphone. I've always wonder what all this looks like on smartphones and was really impressed.

Greg attached a couple of screen shots so I could see the result, which is something I've often wondered. AO looks great!

It's really easy to navigate and sooooo fast compared to DSL. The phone uses the Goggle Chrome browser and I noticed that it ignores the font style and uses its own default font, but that's no biggie. It also doesn't display and play Adobe shockwave files on a page or perhaps I just don't have the apps to play those. I'm still learning this thing. It's smarter than me, hehe.

Now if I just can retire this 800X600 comp hahaha

I was gonna correct 'Goggle' when I figured maybe Greg meant to misspell it... like the way GNs refer to Aussie department store Harvey Norman as 'Hardly Normal' hehe. Or Windows as 'Windoze'. Anyway, most people seem delighted with their smart phones so I suppose it's only a matter of time before I buy one. 

As to my story about river cruises and "floaties", Francois wrote: hello old man... 

Your story when you made some "floaties" outboard gave me a remembrance of a true story: In January 2013 I went on my boat besides the southward island of NC (Pines Island) with 2 teen boys for 4 days. Perfect crystal blue sea arriving there (after 6h of navigation) and none to be seen around. There were big fishes everywhere around the boat, so the boys went swimming and spearfishing at some meters of the boat and they took a "bec de canne" of around 3kg (maybe it's for you a sweetlip emperor) At noon we made a fire on the beach and cooked it on a grill with olive oil and some herbs: it was delicious...

1h after, back on the boat, one of the boys had to dump a floatie at the  bow of the boat and his floatie became to float at some meters around the boat: nice view and big peals of laughter. 2mn after some fishes arrived and we saw a big bec de canne swallow the entire thing in one bite ... The 2 boys were quite throwing up, thinking they'd just eaten a shit eater hehehe. They swore to never eat (and hunt) this sort of fish anymore... And before returning to spearfish, they looked at my fish book to see what were eating the more common fishes.. They only will shoot carnivorous fishes as this salmon gruper

But after eating some in the evening, I laughed at them saying carnivorous use to eat those shit eaters hehehe. A little disgusted, yep, but teens are always famished so they continued to eat fishes...

Blame God. He created recycling. As much as I love dogs, I've never been comfortable with their zealous interest in other dogs' droppings or, indeed, rear ends. But when I saw my own pooch sniff a dog turd in a park, and then attempt to devour it, I was totally disgusted. So much so, I've never recovered from that bitter disappointment nor been able to view dogs with the same level of respect and affection again.

By the same token, we humans are a weird lot. We're so incredibly inconsistent! We happily buy bags of manure for our gardens and heap the stuff on our strawberries and yet, at the same time, refer to other forms of excrement as "filth". Sex is treated the same way. It's fine if conducted in socially acceptable circumstances, otherwise it's depraved, obscene and disgusting.

Here we go again. I figured this would happen. Super snoop FL Josh checked out the GN forum to find those pics of me that Billeeeeeee and Jules took and posted. The reason I didn't link to them or post them here is because I didn't want to alarm anyone. But Josh is not happy unless he's analyzing and dissecting something. That's what he does for a living as a legal consultant. You'd think he'd know better than to make assertions without facts to back them up: I was shocked to see how emaciated you have let yourself become.  Because you have concentrated on fattening foods rather than nutritious foods, your body has cannibalized all your muscle tissue.  No wonder you have no energy and can't even walk to your dentist's office.  You talk about getting on the doctors to do something about speeding up the healing process in your mouth yet you keep bathing the exposed wounds in alcohol and cigarette smoke.

Let's stop right there. Let myself become? My weight plummeted a month or so after all my teeth were removed in November 2012 - since then my weight has been a few kilos either side of 50. I look the same now as I did back then. Remember my trip to Sydney last September when I walked around the harbor foreshore for 6 hours before my appointment with the doc?

Fattening foods rather than nutritious? That's utter codswallop, Josh. My smoothies contain 3 scoops of hospital formula Sustagen with a zillion vitamins and minerals plus fiber, 1/2 can coconut milk, 2 tblsps plain yoghurt, 1 tblsp peanut butter, 1 tblsp honey, 1 raw egg, 1 banana. The trifle (a recent addition to the diet) has jelly, cake, a dash of sherry and a pile of custard (made from milk and eggs). Then there's cream on top of that. My noodles are made with butter and 2 handfuls of cheese. Coffee (with cream) and black tea make up the rest.

Can't walk to the dental clinic? Where on earth did you get that idea? I have always walked there, and always walked home again. Not one single exception in all the time I've been going there.

Alcohol and cigarette smoke? Between January 2012, when I had the operation, and October 2013, I gave up the plonk and had maybe 6 beers. What's that? About 1 beer every 4 months? Now I have one small bottle a day, 375ml. That not my idea of "bathing", Josh. As to smoking, it's a couple a day. It's 2.30pm now and I've had less than half of one so far.

This weight problem has only been a problem since the removal of my teeth which subsequently exposed bone in my lower jaw. There wasn't a problem before that. I weighed 65 kilos, even after having half my throat removed. In  fact, it happened so suddenly, the doc at Port Macquarie freaked and sent me to Newcastle for a special X-ray that scanned everything. It proved negative. So it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out what the cause is.

Actually, come to think of it, I heard a story about a group of people stuck on a remote island or some place where all they had to eat was rabbits. Eventually, they all died. Not because they were eating rabbits, but because it was a protein-only diet with no vegetables. Veges aid the digestion of protein. Soooo, considering my diet is largely protein, I should be drinking vegetable juice. Roite. It's on the shopping list.

On a lighter note, NC Art wrote: We're Baaaaaack!  Informing the wondering world that we are back on with electricity, TV, and Internet. It has been three days of on/off and repeat. We had little snow, but freezing rain covered trees, breaking limbs to fall on power lines and knocking transformers off all over. Glad we had an emergency generator to give light … but no heat. My son burned wood and I burned gas in a wall heater. About $200 worth of gasoline ran through the generator but happy we had it. Oh well…HELL!

Frustrating indeed, Art, but I'm glad to hear that all is well again. Doesn't sound like solar would be of much assistance over there. Art also sent a bunch of pics of lunatic thrill-seekers risking life and limb for the sake of an adrenalin rush - entitled, Things To Do Before You Get Old. Yeah, right. I'll assemble the pics into an album tomorrow (if I have the energy hehe).

Meanwhile, it's time to call it a day again. Hang on a tick... here's a nice little story about a letter written to God by an old lady. See ya tomorrow. Gary

February 15, 2014. Now, loggers work in forests, roite? And they travel a lot. So, if a logger decided to get a motorhome, what kinda motorhome do you reckon he'd prefer?

The ol' comp was infuriatingly slow booting up this morning so I'm doing a Malware scan. Found two "objects" so far and counting. Bastards. I've always found it curious that out of a bunch of innocent newborns in a hospital nursery, a percentage will grow up to be low-life assholes.

Billeeeeeee posted another shot of me taken when he and Jules visited a few weeks back. Barnacle Bill spotted it and said he didn't post the pics he took of me cos he didn't want me to feel self conscious. But seeing those images of moi looking pathetically emaciated with a goofy toothless grin made me realize just how easy it would be to slide into depression and self-pity mode. Can't have that now, can we. Billeeeeeee described me as "inspirational" which surprised me. It's not like I'm on any bravery crusade or whatever. I don't feel as bad as I look, and I'm determined to go through with this Odyssey thing, come hell or high water. AND THAT'S THAT! By the way, my doc hasn't contacted me about the results of the chest X-ray I had taken last Tuesday, so I guess no news is good news.

Still showery here but that's welcome. Farmers like Andrew will be pleased. Lots of green grass will feed his cattle and fatten them up for market. And the rain will top up his dams and tanks. I saw on the news last night that Adelaide has gone from one extreme to the other... record heat waves followed by record rainfall. And over in Jolly Olde it's gales and flooding, so I guess Lindsay is spending much of his time indoors watching TV and farting.

Actually, without Lindsay here, I shaved and showered with the bathroom door open and music blasting through the house. Haven't done that for years!

TX Greg wrote: ..."my little floaties bobbed past" HAHAHA  Boy that gives a whole new meaning to "tea and biscuits".

True. My mate was distinctly unimpressed but at least I learned something about nautical loos that day. Actually, the Hawksbury (just north of Sydney) is a wonderful river with miles of bush on all sides and several hire places with houseboats and cruisers.

From the Beeb: Big pictures: Winter storm grips US. A huge winter storm is affecting the densely populated US north-east, after wreaking havoc in the south.

Actor Ralph Waite, best known for playing John Walton Sr - Papa Walton - in the long-running TV show The Waltons, has died at the age of 85. "Ralph was a good honest actor and a good honest man," said Michael Learned, who played his on-screen wife Olivia. Dunno why, but the bloke who played John Boy in that show used to irritate me big time.

Nuttin about the cricket in the Beeb but the Oz cricket team is doing rather nicely in Safrica at the mo. Having sent the Poms back to England after thrashing them in the Ashes and 1-day games in Oz, our team is now playing the world's No.1 ranked team, the Proteas, in Safrica, and beating the pants off them. Cody and Winger would be peeeessed off, for sure. The team is hoping to maintain top form for next year's World Cup match against New Zealand.

Bit of a boring ol' Satdee, really, with not a lot occurring. However, life without Lindsay is becoming most appealing, and is something I could get very used to - one more reason to hit the road. Speaking of which, I'm gonna have to see what can be done to speed up this gum business. Progress is way too slow and I'm getting frustrated. All the doc in Sydney does is check me out and tells me to come back in 3 months. That's not good enough. So when I see him again I'm gonna be more assertive. There's an oral surgeon here in this area (servicing Port Macquarie and Taree) so I'll suggest to the doc in Sydney that he send all the info regarding my operation and condition to the doc up here so that I can at least get a second opinion. Time for some action, G! No more Mr Nice Guy! Gary

February 14, 2014. What was I saying yesterday about a dead dingo's donger? We have rain, dear Breth! Not a helluva lot, but consistent showers which will make all the little petunias very happy. TX Greg mentioned the other day he bets Barnacle Bill uses all his fishing buckets to collect rain water hehe. Ew!

Did you notice the color of the water in Sochi's taps? Looked like orange juice. GNs often remark on water quality in remote areas - washing and showering only. A supply of drinking water is recommended when travelling certain areas of Oz, but the bottled stuff ain't cheap. In any event, I'll be sure not to put any suss water into my tank, period.

The thing I have to get used to is not rinsing dishes, etc, under running water. I'm gonna miss that. Not quite sure what the alternative is to cleaning ground coffee dregs from the plunger by rinsing, but I'll need to figure it out. On my last shakedown I used the tap in the toilet block. Water is something we city folk take for granted. Not Andrew. He relies on tank water on his property, so it would be a very different story in relation to showers, laundry, washing the car, watering the garden, etc.

Camping by a creek or river can be handy but you need to be mindful of who might be upstream and what they might be discarding. I'm not sure I even wanna contemplate that... except to say a mate and I shared an old Halvorsen cruiser up the Hawksbury River one weekend. We anchored in a little cove, and while he was busy setting the table, organizing the crystal and silver (he was like that) and getting lunch ready aft, I went to the loo. When I emerged, there he was leaning over the side, rinsing a tea pot when a couple of my little floaties bobbed past. He was horrified to say the least! Being a non nautical person, it hadn't occurred to me that loo waste went straight into the drink. I hadn't bothered to check the direction of the current either. Hence the old saying, "You get my drift."

I've long wondered about "love" and what it is. I suspect it's something that happens after the initial attraction. As my mother once said, "Love is not about violin strings and palpitations." What she didn't know was this:

It’s A Chemical Reaction!

There’s actually a clinical term used to describe this phenomenon that exists at the beginning of every romantic relationship. Coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov, limerence is an involuntary state of intense desire and attachment toward another person to whom you become attracted. You begin to idealize them and magnify all their good qualities. It’s intrusive and provokes feelings of deep longing and passion to be with that person and these feelings can be blindingly strong. In fact, our bodies naturally produce an abundance of chemicals and amphetamines during the romantic love stage, including dopamine and the “love drug” phenylethylamine (PEA), that account for this state of euphoria and ultimate bliss.

The point of all of this is that when you first meet someone with whom you share a strong attraction, there’s a lot of powerful currents going on that could cause you to get swept away in the tidal wave of emotion. This can lead you to make impulsive and reckless decisions that could sabotage a potentially good thing you and your new dating partner could have if you’re not careful.

Well, that explains what I've been trying to articulate for years. I've experienced overwhelming doses of phenylethylamine many times but, as it turned out, not love. Once the phenylethylamine had worn off, I'd ask myself, "What the hell am I doing hanging around this twit?" Nature plays all kinds of tricks on us, dear Breth. Phenylethylamine is not designed to promote clear, rational thinking. Moreover, I'm pretty sure that naturally produced chemicals and amphetamines are also responsible for conditions such as mass hysteria, religious fervor and various phobias.

Speaking of the brain, here's something from the Beeb: Brain scans show a complex string of numbers and letters in mathematical formulae can evoke the same sense of beauty as artistic masterpieces and music from the greatest composers. Mathematicians were shown "ugly" and "beautiful" equations while in a brain scanner at University College London. The same emotional brain centres used to appreciate art were being activated by "beautiful" maths.

Glorious greenery - winning garden images. From birds fighting in domestic back gardens, to stunning scenic vistas in remote parts of the world - the colourful entries to the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition are very diverse.

Mini Cooper cracks the code. Scientists at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico have attempted communication with extra-terrestrial life forms. Mini launched the latest iteration of its Cooper subcompact hatchback not far from the giant saucer in the jungle – and it may take Arecibo-calibre equipment for earthlings to discern the 2014 Cooper’s many improvements over the outgoing model

So, what's there to do on a showery day when nuttin' much is happening? How about sipping a beer in PJ and listening to music for an hour? Yeah. That was good, watching the late afternoon traffic headed this way and that, and a few pedestrians ambling past. A butcher bird with a keen eye on the wet grass warbled something or other and went about its business, ignoring me. So there I was thinking about PJ and how well everything inside is organized - four rooms neatly packaged into one - kitchen, bed, dining, living - with enough windows and an open doorway to banish any sense of claustrophobia, and the whole of Oz at my doorstep.

That's the key ya know - keeping PJ clean, tidy and uncluttered. Clutter creates chaos.

I also thought about those times when I'll happen on some idyllic spot to camp for a while. It won't be every camp, but it'll happen - a long stretch of white, sandy beach, a billabong with a view to distant mountains, a clearing in a rain forest surrounded by lush green growth, a huge shimmering lake dotted with sailing craft, a vast plain with a bejeweled night sky above a flickering campfire. Seems unreal, but GNs do it every day. Yeah... who woulda thunk that PJ would be all ready to rock and roll except for a mouth that needs TEETH!

Oh well... think poz and it'll all happen. Meanwhile, that's it for today, folks. Thanks for taking the time to share my thoughts. Gary

February 13, 2014. Pay day! In and out, like handing the baton to the next runner in a relay race. Hehe. Oh well... I'm doin' okay. I was just telling Stan the Lawn Man that there are things I can't do, but also things I can... and it's those I can that I'm grateful for. He says he watched the Birth of PJ video and that his shotgun is in his truck. He'll shoot me later. Gotta get paid for doing the lawn first.

NC Art writes Now You See It, Now You Don't: Subject describes our power supply today. On and off. My son finally cranked emergency generator; one hour later power is back on. Switched from generator for two hours; power restored. This is round three so what’s next hoo nose? Finally got internet connection, but TV refuses to show anything but “No Signal, check connections.” A great pox on such weather: Light snow, freezing rain, sleet, tree limbs breaking.

Doesn't sound like much fun at all, Art. Just the opposite here. A little cloudy but warm and dry. We desperately need the rain though. It's as dry as a dead dingo's donger.

Art also sent this link from Smithsonian the other day about a volcano in Indonesia that burns blue!

From the Beeb: A huge winter storm is bearing down on the densely populated US north-east, after wreaking havoc in the South. Across the typically mild South, more than half a million homes and businesses lack power, and more than 3,300 US flights have been cancelled. The mammoth storm has affected people in 22 states from Texas to Maine and caused at least 10 deaths.

China's first lunar rover could potentially be saved, despite experiencing mechanical problems, state media report. The moon rover has "awoken" from its scheduled dormancy and "stands a chance of being saved", a spokesperson quoted by news agency Xinhua said. The Jade Rabbit suffered a serious mechanical problem in January. Made in China?

"We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other" wrote Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast. Could it have been a wholesome burger that made them sleep so well, asks Tanvi Misra? According to Sandra Spanier, general editor of the Hemingway Letters Project, Papa's favourite hamburger recipe - made available by the John F Kennedy Presidential Library in digital form on Tuesday - reveals quite a bit about the author and his fourth wife, Mary. I'm with Ernest... nothing beats a good burger!

It's been a seismic year for Australia's once-flourishing car industry. Last May, Ford said it would stop manufacturing in Australia, and in December, General Motors' Holden announced that it, too, would be closing down. Now Toyota has decided to close its assembly lines by the end of 2017, prompting warnings that the slow death of car manufacturing in Australia could push parts of the country into recession.

For decades we've had a Buy Australian Made campaign but consumers ignore it. We all have our Chinese TVs, Korean cars, Asian frozen veges, etc, and happily leave buying Australian-made to someone else. Maybe all these Australian businesses going broke will act as a wake-up call. And it's not just the auto manufacturers. The irony is that in the event of natural disasters such as floods, droughts and bushfires, Aussies rally to the cause and provide generous assistance. Time and time again, victims say that help from total strangers in a disaster is overwhelming. But what happens when people lose their jobs because Aussies ignore Aussie-made in favor of cheap imports? It seems we're finding out.

A sinkhole has swallowed eight rare automobiles at a sports car museum in the US state of Kentucky. No injuries were reported when the ground caved in at the National Corvette Museum in the city of Bowling Green in the early hours of Wednesday

For those, like me, who are not sports fans, here's a link sent by FL Josh about the troubles in Sochi: You might find this interesting as to some things behind the scenes at the Sochi Olympics. Yes, it pays to think twice before criticizing others. Walk a mile in my shoes, etc.

Well, today's Waffle has certainly been a collaborative effort hehe... good thing too cos I've been a bit lean in the creative input department. I think I'm still in shock after seeing a pic of me and Billeeeeeee posted on the GN forum. Jules took it when they visited a few weeks ago. Sheesh. Talk about thin! Especially standing next to Billeeeeeee who's not exactly a wisp of a lad. Oh well... bring on those choppers and meat pies! Gary

February 12, 2014. A GN posted this letter from a Colorado professor who commented on his impressions of Oz.

TX Greg wrote to say he enjoyed the pelican pics. Yep, a telephoto lens and a bit of patience can yield some interesting results. I'll do better next time though cos I didn't have the camera on an appropriate setting. I'll also use "burst" next time and get multi-shots of action so I can choose the best shot. A pelican in flight and/or landing with feet outstretched is also on the "must have" list.

Off to the denteest shortly for another irrigation, and that'll be it for appointments today. I'm free! I have a little shopping to do, that's all.

BACK! And sipping a coffee. The dentist attending to me during Nancy's absence remarked the other day on quality of life as it relates to my condition. This morning I mentioned that my inability to speak properly was one quality I miss - when people visit or if I have to converse on the phone. She said I do remarkably well considering my lack of teeth and the amount of scar tissue from the cancer operation - as well as having part of my tongue snipped. That's nice, but it's still a matter of doing strenuous oral gymnastics every time I speak. Hehe. Oh well...

Roite, well I got around to assembling and naming and adding captions to the rare, historic photos that NC Art sent the other day into an album. Some fascinating stuff there. Thanks Art. Now, you have to ask yourself, why do I do all this? Write a blog, make photo albums, shoot videos...? I'm supposed to be retired! Yeah, right. And then what? I'd go even nuttier if I didn't have this stuff to do.

Shock horror! A gay in the locker room! Panic!

From the Beeb: Officials from North and South Korea have begun their first high-level talks since 2007. The meeting - requested by Pyongyang - is taking place at the border village of Panmunjom. No agenda has been set but the issue of family reunions planned for later this month is expected to be discussed. Talk! That's encouraging. Go for it, guys.

Australian police say they have found drugs with a street value of A$180m ($163m; £99m) hidden in kayaks arriving from China. The methamphetamine was packed into 19 out of 27 sea kayaks in a shipping container. Five people, including four Taiwanese nationals, were arrested in Sydney, a joint police and customs statement said. Saved all that paddling though.

Former Hollywood child star Shirley Temple has died at the age of 85. With her adorable charm and blonde curls, she was one of the most popular stars of the 1930s, in hit movies like Bright Eyes and Stand Up and Cheer.

Julia Gillard, former prime minister of Australia, has revealed her new role as chairwoman of a major international education campaign. The Global Partnership for Education works to improve education in some of the world's poorest countries in which 57 million children have no access to primary school. I couldn't stand her in Oz politics but I wish her well in this most worthwhile endeavor.

From Russia with Love: Through this first week of the 2014 Winter Games, the world’s eyes have been trained on the slopes, ice rinks, halfpipes and bobsled tracks – and, it must be said, the restrooms – of Sochi, Russia. Lingering out of frame, however, are some of the vehicles that have made the 22nd winter Olympiad possible. Stout, humble machines that do not grumble for want of chrome or Connolly leather.

Bloody hell, is it that time already? I was browsing the GN forum and lost the plot. Catch ya tomorrow. Gary

February 11, 2014. Off to have a chest X-ray done this arvo. Hopefully, there'll be no dramas.

Andrew popped in this morning to fix the marker lights and discovered the faulty one had an earth problem. Fixed that with a bit of solder. So he didn't replace the old lights. Oh well, saves disturbing the fittings I suppose, and it only cost me $20. He was telling me it's so dry at his farm, his cattle are as skinny as I am and worthless on the market. It's worse in other places out west, though, with farmers begging for Government assistance.

And on top of that, Toyota announced last night that it will cease building cars in Oz by 2017. So that's Mitsubishi (a few years back), Ford, GM-H and now Toyota, which leaves no auto manufacturer in Oz except for a few boutique car makers. It'll affect component manufacturers as well and, some say, put about 100K people out of work. The unions and the opposition parties are screaming, of course, and blaming the government's policy of not subsidizing private industry. "It's the end of the entitlements era."

But I tend to believe that vacuums attract new opportunities. I don't see the point of governments using taxpayer's money to support business that can't support itself (natural disasters such as drought, floods excluded). If Australian workers demand high wages, short working hours and a plethora of entitlements that make it impossible for companies to compete in the international marketplace, then they shouldn't be surprised if the companies fail. Australia needs smart entrepreneurs to capitalize on what makes this country unique, not the same.

Barnacle Bill turned up about midday and we did the obligatory tour of our respective rigs, both Freeways mounted on Ford Couriers - with a celebratory beer. When Bill appeared at the front door I wondered who he was at first. Ah, Bill! I stood there shirtless looking like an Auschwitz escapee till I realized I'd better put on a T before he called Triple O. 

Here's Bill proudly showing off his rig, with PJ on the right, parked in my yard. That bulge under Bill's T-shirt is where he keeps all the fish he catches.

And here he is re-attaching the trailer carrying his little tinnie with outboard.

As you can see, Bill's Freeway doesn't have the side storage bins like mine, so he uses the open space for storage, with the drop-down sides of the tray still attached. Bill's a marine engineer by trade, so here is the kinda thing he can knock up out of old scrap - a folding ladder at the rear.

Pretty nifty, wot? Bill obviously knew in advance that he would have a visitor (namely me) to his rig so he went to the trouble of tidying it up a bit and giving it a spray of Eau de Sardine.

As you can see, Bill is a fisherman hehe. That bucket to the right near the doorway, he advised me, still contained a bit of bait from his last expedition. It gets pretty warm in those rigs on a 30+C day... if you get my drift. Say no more. Bill, by the way, runs a fishing charter business at Magnetic Island.

When Bill left to look for a place to camp for lunch, I got myself organized for a chest X-ray. Parking anywhere near the hospital is almost impossible but I got lucky, and found a spot just across the road.

By the time I returned home, the day was disappearing so I put together a bunch of pics I took last evening down by the river. There wasn't much happening when I arrived but after a while a few people showed up, which attracted a couple of pelicans looking for hand-outs. Click here for the album - with captions.

And that's all I have time for today, Ls and Gs. Be noice and I'll catch you tomorrow. Gary

February 10, 2014. Another lazy day buggerizing around, and reading a bit more of the Nikon manual. Do you mean to tell me I was happily taking pitchas without knowing all that stuff? I'm glad I've taken the time to read the thing though cos all those buttons and switches aren't as imtimidating as they appear to be. More importantly, there's not much point in having a sophisticated camera if all I'm gonna do is point and shoot.

Just got a phone call that cheered me up. It was Andrew, and he'll be here tomorrow at about 9am with a couple of marker lights for PJ that he has in stock already. They're smaller than those on the van but if they don't fit, there's an auto supercheap store just down the road. He'll be fitting LEDs. I wouldn't mind LEDs for both the rear of the truck and camper as well but that can wait for another day.

FL Josh wrote: I remember as a kid wondering if cats were killed to make catgut violin strings.  It actually gets its name not from cats but from cattle.  Such strings are made from animal intestines and often that of cattle.

I'm attaching some campers made from VW's.  People have probably had more fun with VW's than any other car ever made.

NC Art sent a bunch of pics too - historic ones of various world events. I'll put those into an album tomorrow. Also tomorrow, I'm expecting Barnacle Bill from Magnetic Island to pop in for a cuppa on his way south. I'll take a pic of the Freeway Twins parked side by side.

From the Beeb: Dozens of bushfires are sweeping across southern Australia, fanned by hot weather and strong winds. Officials say an unknown number of homes have been destroyed and a firefighter has been injured in the state of Victoria. Some residents have been ordered to leave and flames have spread to the outer suburbs of Australia's second biggest city, Melbourne. Conditions in Victoria are at their worst since 2009, authorities said.

Smartphone-loving Adam Gopnik is no technophobe. But there's something stopping him from joining the social media revolution. "I do not twitter, and yet there are thousands who wait for me to tweet." That sentence, which would have been a spoken symptom of madness, a crazy man's sentence, a few short years ago, is now a simple form of confession. Well, it is a form of insanity, I suppose, but of a different kind. My sentiments exactly.

Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood has been credited with saving the life of a golf tournament director in California who was choking on a piece of cheese. "Clint saved my life," said Steve John, director of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament. The actor reportedly saw that Mr John was in difficulty and performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on him. The technique requires a rescuer to carry out abdominal thrusts on a choke victim to dislodge the blockage.

The US is to make changes to the justice system to give greater legal recognition to same-sex marriages. In a speech at a gay rights event in New York, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department had a role in "confronting discrimination".

Here's a bit of Australian poetry about the mayhem caused by a Senior Citizens Meat Raffle that went wrong. Hehe.

That's about it from yours indubitably. Can't wait to try some of the new tricks I've learned by reading the Nikon manual. Speaking of which, I favorited a pic taken by a bloke I follow on Red Bubb. He's often up at all hours to get just the right light for a particular subject, and he excelled with this one. Looks like something outta Lawrence of Arabia but it's Stockton, which is in the Newcastle area just south of here.

If you're interested, here are some of the favorites I've added recently. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

February 9, 2014. I was surprised the other night, watching a doco about P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, to learn that she was an Aussie. She lived a fantasy most of her life and purported to be Irish. But her father was English. She was born in Queensland and raised in NSW. Although the characters in her books were all supposed to be frightfully English, they were based on Australians whom she knew, as were the locations.

I just discovered two typos in the second para of yesterday's Waffle. Bugger. See what happens when the brain ain't properly in gear? It also proves that what we see ain't necessarily what's there. Before: I didn't realized 17s were FFs and 24s were Liberators. After: I didn't realize 17s were FFs and 24s were Liberators. Before: In my younger days, all the petrol heads knew their cubic inches about which I didn't have a clue - and still don't. After: In my younger days, all the petrol heads knew their cubic inches about which I hadn't a clue - and still don't.

I feel better now.

The brain's in neutral again today so I figured I'd put my time to good use by reading my new Nikon D3100 user manual. It's a pretty amazing camera, despite being DSLR entry level, capable of many sophisticated functions. A most interesting read. It's a pity I don't get many opportunities to practice at the mo - living here in this house - but the day will come when photography is a daily event in all kinds of conditions, day and night. Decisions relating to aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, ASA, etc, will become second nature and I'll be able to concentrate on what I'm photographing rather than how.

From the Beeb: Many US schools have tightened security since the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012. Safety drills are becoming as common as fire drills but they can prompt difficult conversations at home. My seven-year-old is a chatterbox, and as the youngest of three boys, he is always keen to be heard. Little in his life goes unreported. Every day has a banner headline. So he could not wait to tell me about the safety drill he and his classmates had practised

Seems like the Beeb is having a slow day as well, except for the Sochi Olympics.

Sorry about the shortie, folks, but it's just one of those days. At least, I spent it edumacating meself. Gary

February 8, 2014. Satdee! NC Art wrote: One more time. My combat flying was in a B-24 “Liberator,” NOT a B-17 “Flying Fortress.” Flew a few training sessions in B-17. Did not like that bird.

Ah, so it was my mention of Flying Fortress yesterday that sparked Art's protest. I didn't realize 17s were FFs and 24s were Liberators. I thought they were all FFs. OR Richie is like that with his Boeings. He knows all the 7 numbers and Bs whereas, to me, they're all Jumbos. In my younger days, all the petrol heads knew their cubic inches about which I hadn't a clue - and still don't. Some people are very sensitive about such things.

Art's a 24 man
Not a 17
Trained on the latter
Henceforth never been.

Art's response: NO WUKKERS MATE. TAKE A NAP.

Come to think of it, I get totally confused in the menswear dept when I buy shirts, undies and jeans. All the neck, waist and length measurements are in centimeters. Hello? What ever happened to 15 inches and 32? Or SM, M, L and XL? When I was a kid, our telephone number was two letters and 4 numbers. Then they changed to all digits and added an extra digit cos more people were subscribing to the network. So that was 7 digits we had to remember. Then, as the network grew even bigger, they added another damn digit. Now we have 8 digits to remember! And to make matters even worse, we now have mobile phones with 10 numbers!

I've had people on the phone checking my ID. "And is your mobile number yadda, yadda, yadda?" What they do is rattle it off without using pairs like I do. Pairing the numbers helps me to remember it. But they just read it off a page and it sounds totally foreign to me. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 doesn't sound anything like twelve, thirty four, fifty six, seventy eight. Know what I mean?

Gone are the days when an ID was just plain John or Mary. As humanity went forth and multiplied, there were too many Johns and too many Marys, so people were required to have a second or surname like Smith or Jones. But if Mary married John she would need to adopt his surname. Some Marys got a bit uppity about relinquishing their family heritage and hyphenated the two - Smith-Jones or Jones-Smith. Then there was the American penchant for naming sons with the father's name and along came the Jnrs and the Roman Numerals. Oh dear...

Actually, I've often wondered what would happen if John Bernstein-MacEnnally married Mary Mayfield-Smithers, but let's not go there.

Speaking of oddities, Art also writes: A 299 year old Stradivarius violin was stolen recently and recovered a day later. The thief stunned the concert master of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and made off with the violin appraised in 2012 at $5 million. Two chaps have been arrested and a female accomplice who drove the getaway car will be charged also.  Just thought ya aorta know this. Hehe

Hmmm. Do I know any violin jokes? Can't remember. But I do know that cat gut was never used to make strings. It's a myth.

From the Beeb:  The 22nd Winter Olympics opened with a spectacular ceremony in the Russian resort city of Sochi. Athletes from 87 nations paraded before 40,000 people in the Fisht Stadium before president Vladimir Putin declared the Games open. The Olympic flame was lit by Russian former triple gold medallists Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina as fireworks illuminated the night sky. At a cost of £30bn, the Sochi Games is the most expensive Olympics in history

Why Schapelle's story grips Australia. She is standing, shaking, dumfounded, looking around for a friendly face, angry and crying. Her white skin and western clothes — black top, light pink pants — contrast with the brown skin and uniforms of police and court officials. As it dawns on her what's happened - guilty - she breaks down, her palms press hard up against her bowed forehead. Then, quaking, red-faced, palms out in Buddha fashion, she turns to her equally confused, soon-to-be apoplectic family: "Mum, it's OK." But it isn't. And it won't be for a long time

The ABC News Channel in Oz last night cancelled all normal programming to cover live the expected granting of parole to Schapelle Corby in Indonesia where she was tried 9 years ago for possession of cannibis and found guilty. 

When The Beatles appeared on the conservative Ed Sullivan Show they started a revolution. Ken Tucker explains why television was crucial to their success. A great read.

My mind has been in float mode today, thinking about this and that without really focusing on anything in particular - taking time off, perhaps, from a few bursts of deep philosophical pontifications in recent times. Well, deep for me, maybe not for others. Part of me is wishing I was on the Odyssey already but another part is telling me it's not practical at the moment. GNs write about meeting so and so and going to lunch at a cafe or pub. I can't do that. I have a daily timetable for certain foods and medications, including mouthwashes with special stuff. And regular bi-weekly dental appointments. Bleh.

Oh well... carry on regardless, I suppose. Meanwhile, I'll call it a day. Hang on a minute... can't go without first tasting the trifle I made. Okies... slices into squares beautifully, with the raspberry jelly base. Squirt a dollop of cream on top, sprinkle with grated chocolate. Ready? Oh! Gary! You are a master! That is soooooooo good! Mmmmm! Another spoonful please. Oh, yes! Orgasmic! That's as good as it gets... just like a proper one in a fancy restaurant. I'm forgiven for buggering up the first one with plum pudding and too much jam. This one is perfect. Bellissimo! Even the jelly melts in the mouth, unlike my mother's which would be a bit leathery cos she didn't stir it sufficiently. And the amount of sherry I poured over the jam rolls is just right too... just enough to moisten the cake but keep it firm. Oh my goodness, that is heavenly. A few crushed nuts, maybe? I'll try that later. Gary

February 7, 2014. Isn't it strange how the obvious isn't always apparent? Last night's 2-minute noodles went down the screech far more easily than they ever have before. It's the 2 minutes that had me fooled. I just happened to check the label after buying a different brand and noticed it recommended 800 watts. Roite. My old bus is 500 watts cos it's a 1983 model I bought new back in... yeah. An oldie but a goodie. Still got the Sanyo 'That's Life' sticker on the door. So last night's noodles were 3 minutes.

To give the noodles a bit of extra oomph and protein, I top them (after cooking) with a couple of handfuls of Kraft Mexican 3-cheese blend (grated) and melt it through. Tastes pretty good. I use noodles rather than larger pasta cos I can break up the noodles into small bits that are easily swallowed without chewing.

Slept like a log again last night for 10 hours and am feeling pretty chipper this morning. I was a bit worried there for a while that some physical ailment was gonna spoil my Odyssey plans. Perish the thought! That is definitely NOT an option.

TX Greg was pleased to read about Art's Flying Fortress experience: Hey Art,

Wow that was neat to hear you were a tail gunner, so was my dad. He flew many missions on B29's into Japan. And no not the one that dropped the big one, hehe. Somewhere in a old box I have a huge map that he drew all his missions on, with flight paths, times, dates, etc. Always thought maybe a museum would might want to display that.

Also in that box is a small map made out of silk and a special signal mirror, so if they had to ditch the plane in water the map would be ok and the mirror could SOS to rescue planes.

Small world, yes? It's quite a privilege to know Art, actually. As an 88 y/o returned USAF serviceman who saw action in London during WWII he's a rare bird these days. He's also been a farmer, a traveller, a printer, an alderman, a family raiser, and a writer with a keen interest in classical literature.

Can't remember what program it was on telly but I watched someone the other night talking about the lack of respect young people have for older peeps in western society. He said kids these days equate widsom with being iPad savvy hehe. Or being able to operate the TV remote. He also referred to Australian Aborigines who have a profound respect for their elders. Oh yes... it was Dr David Suzuki. He said older people have a duty to pass on their knowledge to younger generations. "We've been there, we've done it all, we have the experience." So after hearing all that, and absorbing it, I wondered what could be said to change the perception younger people have of oldies being synonymous with Alzheimers. Yesterday, when the doc and the young medical student, Lucy, were here, I turned to her and said, "We don't learn by getting younger". She seemed suitably impressed with that statement.

The thing is, cliches that associate wisdom with age have little impact on the young. They can't identify with age. Media focus is on youth and beauty and being techno savvy. But when you reverse the cliche and say "We don't learn by getting younger", it becomes a statement easily understood by a young person. A young person knows what it's like to be younger - and dumber. Light bulb time.

I remember Cody writing to me one time and saying, "Everything you say makes so much sense!" Hehe. My technique avoided sounding like an adult lecturing a teen. Instead of lecturing, I became a teen discussing teen problems, with the advantage of adult experience. "You're pretty teeny for a fossil," he once wrote.

As I showered and shaved, I heard a radio interview with Sunny Jacobs - and totally fascinating it was. A story of the Florida justice system being perverted to send innocent people to death row for the murder of two policemen so that the prosecutor and judge could further their careers, and the police "brotherhood" could have their revenge. How vile. How insanely sick. Here's a review of Sunny's book Stolen Time

When the interview first started, Sunny was talking about living in North Carolina, which made me think of Art: Another good thing about flying with guns in a turret is the gunner sits between the guns and fires them remotely by a hand-held yoke with triggers. The vibration and noise were dampened by the flight helmet with built-in earphones, Waist guns were hand held and would chatter and buck and shake the hell outta the gunner. O well, war is hell any ways you take it.

Yeah, legalized insanity. 

And I take it that you are in some better circumstances health-wise today. Goodoh.

Yep, feeling much better today, mate. Wearing fresh, new undies and about to do some shopping and run a few errands shortly. BTW, Good-o is a brand of dog food here.

One GN, a newbie, commented the other day on feeling nervous about a particular free camp where there were no other campers, so he made the decision to move on. He asked if he was being unduly paranoid. Other GNs said no, he wasn't being unduly paranoid, and to rely on instinct or gut feel when determining the safety or otherwise of a camp site. If you spot broken bottles, graffiti or other evidence of hoon behavior, move on. Makes sense to  me. Just be observant and use the ol' noggin.

I often find discarded fast-food containers and bottles on my front lawn, tossed there by pedestrians on their way home from a night on the town. Grubs. Grubs who don't give a shit. Silly people. If you spend your life not giving a shit, shit is what you get in return.

Back from shopping, and what a lovely day it is. Paid the doc's bill, got the rebate from Medicare, bought some goodies at the supermarket including jelly crystals (which I used to eat straight from the pack as a kid) and mini jam rolls (sponge cake rolled into small er... rolls). Made a smoothie and refrigerated for later consumption, then made jelly (raspberry) and refrigerated a portion to set in a container to which will be added the jam rolls, sherry and custard (trifle), and later served with whipped cream and a generous sprinkle of grated chocolate. Mmmmm.. Had to discard 2/3 of the unset jelly tho cos I only wanted a 1/4 inch on the bottom of the trifle container. Oh well... it's only a buck a packet. Could have made a second jelly I suppose but I'm not a big jelly eater per se. Dontcha just love the way I reveal all these rivetting secrets about my most private life?

From the Beeb: An apparently hacked phone conversation during which a senior US diplomat disparages the EU over the Ukraine crisis has been posted online. A voice resembling that of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland refers to the EU using a graphic swear word. The US said Ms Nuland had "apologised for these reported comments". The audio also reveals a frank exchange about America's strategy on how to work with Ukraine's main opposition leaders. Remember the black and white spies cartoon in MAD magazine?

Scientists in Australia are working to classify a new species of giant jellyfish that washed up on a beach in Tasmania. A family found the 1.5m (5ft) jellyfish on a beach south of Hobart last month.

Long-time US television host Jay Leno has taped his final episode of The Tonight Show, with help from a few celebrity guests. Leno, 63, appeared emotional as he thanked viewers for their loyalty after his 22 years as host.

Well, that's about my lot for today, dear Breth. But before I go, here's a GN post called Before and After Marriage. Hooroo! Gary

February 6, 2014. Those USAF B thingies were called Flying Fortresses, roite? A fortress to me is something attached to solid ground, and I always thought the FF's legs were a touch short if one's engines happened to be shot off at 20,000 feet. Anyway, NC Art wrote: Thanks for the flight down memory lane. Actually my main War bird was the B24, tho we had time in B17 sufficient to hate the thing. My gun position in ass end of B24 was nice and roomy inside a turret. That position in the B17 was very tight, with gunner on his belly or kneees. Bummer!

Scary stuff. I've seen gunners firing those things in war movies, shaking like a leaf in a gale. I imagine it would be like trying to use a toothpick in a Model T travelling over rough road. The absurd games people play.

You could try skimmed milk to avoid all that ropy glop But you get nothing fattening in that event; just the calcium and vitamin and protein. May be a bad trade-off…..

Hmmmm. I noticed the coconut milk yesterday produced lots of mouth glop but it wasn't stringy, and it was much easier to clear the throat. I didn't have any problems overnight either.

The doc's been and gone, together with Lucy, a med student, in tow. He wants me to have a chest X-ray done, and I'm not surprised. The last X-ray I had about a year ago was all clear but, as the doc pointed out, and I agree, things can change. In fact, they not only can, they do! However, he did the ol' stethoscope trick (and so did Lucy) and said my breathing was okay... a bit scratchy but okay. Otherwise, it's business as usual. And he likes the Lindsay portrait. It was awarded a feature this morning by the Old Farts of Red Bubble group which accepts only high quality images.

I was pleased to hear from young Albert from Denmark this morning after a long absence. I graduated within top 4 of highest grades at my school. We all got a 10.000 DKK certificate :) Well, high grades and also some other "have to have been in a nature scientific talent contest" kinda thing. Next week I'm gonna meet up with a scientist regarding some new project I'm working on - "Young Scientists 2014", then I'm gonna try out some days at Copenhagen University wednesday, thursday 'n friday. Looking so much forward to it !! I wonder what I'll pick to study ... What did you study?

However, being 19, he's even more excited about this: I got my driver's license btw ! But hey ! I got work, we got money, a car (which is a lot for two 19 yo's I think), an apartment and this summer we're moving to Copenhagen! It's gonna be so cool ^^ 

Sounds like Albert is well on his way to a successful life. I was thinking this morning as I read his note that, had he not been adopted by a couple from Denmark visiting his native Venezuela, and given a good home life with opportunities to study (he plays a mean piano too), things for that lad would have been very different indeed. The fickle finger of fate.

FL Josh wrote: Here is just what you need for your morning cuppa.

And here's something very cool from Dio, an old mate, delivered via Francois: You’re in it @ 70 mph with no seat backs, no seat belts and no brakes and State of the art cotton cord tire technology. (cotton cord hahaha i had no idea) and check out the starter...was that original? Go for a ride with NASCAR’S Carl Edwards. Thanks Dio and Francois... that's a real eye opener! And yes, I love the starter motor.

From the Beeb: The US has warned airlines flying into Russia for the Winter Olympics that explosives hidden in toothpaste tubes could be smuggled on to planes. The Department of Homeland Security told US media the alert affected flights direct into Russia as it prepares for the games in Sochi.

If there is one thing that Australia is not short of it is sunshine. Perth, the capital of Western Australia, and the country's sunniest big city, enjoys an average of eight hours of sunshine per day, rising to 11 hours in the height of summer. Sydney is not far behind, with the Sun on show for more than seven hours each day. And even cloudier and cooler Melbourne gets five and a half hours. With such enviable weather conditions, one knock-on effect is that Australia leads the way when it comes to the number of homes that have solar panels.

Scientists have created a bionic hand which allows the amputee to feel lifelike sensations from their fingers. A Danish man received the hand, which was connected to nerves in his upper arm, following surgery in Italy. Dennis Aabo, who lost his left hand in a firework accident nearly a decade ago, said the hand was "amazing"

A woman convicted of murder in Texas has been put to death, only the 14th time a female has been executed in the US in nearly four decades. Suzanne Basso, 59, was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 18:26 local time Wednesday (00:26 GMT Thursday). She was convicted of the 1998 torture and killing of a mentally impaired man she had promised to marry.

The death penalty - is it a penalty? Hitler didn't think so when he took his own life. To him, it was an escape.

Back to Albert for a moment. He asked what I studied. Nothing formally after leaving school where I only studied the basics. But as I explained in my reply to him, I've taken an interest in studying people most of my life; observing human behavior. But I also explained that such an interest can make you cynical hehe. People can be soooooo dumb!

If I did have my time over again, and chose a subject to study, I think it would be science. I like things you can trust, things you know to be true, things that don't disappoint. Photography is science because it deals with the laws of physics and light. Add a little human imagination and whammo, you got  art.

What is art? FL Josh writes: This was just on the news so I found it online.  I remember when I was taking a class on art in college, I got into quite a debate with the professor as to what constituted art.  His argument was anything created by man is art.  I argued that there was more.  He also painted a picture in one of our classes.  He started out just painting random things on the canvas, and rotating it from time to time, until it looked like something, then he developed that something.  Interesting technique.

I was reading something about Michelangelo's Christ carrying the cross the other day and looking at the picture. Now, we all know that Michelangelo kinda fancied the blokes a little. So, there was a statue of a naked man in the prime of life, toned, well built and very handsome - in a church. How so? He had a cross. That makes it okay, apart from the fact that he wasn't wearing a dinner suit at the time of crucifixion. As a kid, I always found it curious (if not contradictory) that nudity played such a large and accepted part in religious art. Somethin' a bit suss goin' on here, I thunk to meself. See what I mean about the dangers inherent in observing human nature? They're all a bunch of bloody hypocrites.

But Michelangelo was smart. He figured out pretty quickly that he could freely indulge his passion for glorifying the nude male by giving his art a religious significance. Other artists simply called it art and let it go at that. Then Pablo came along and painted triangular boobs and confused the hell outta everyone.

Yes indeedy, ladies and genitals, human beans are a pretty weird lot. On the poz side, once you've figured out that peeps are a bunch of nutters, if one looks at you as if you're a few shrimps short of a barbie, you can just shrug it off. It's only a case of the pot calling the kettle black. It doesn't matter.

Well, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, just look at the time! I get a bit carried away when I'm being philosophical. Back tomorrow with more who knowz what! Gary

February 5, 2014. Before I go any further, I was perusing Red Bubble this morning and spotted a pic of B17s in formation. In the 'description' it talked about 1944 and Britain, so I thought of Art going on one of his Sunday joy flights to Berlin. Click on the pic to enlarge. 

And now, let's see who gives the best advice, the bartender or the shrink.

FL Josh wrote: Was getting caught up again on a week's worth of Waffles and just read about your choking experience.  How frightening that had to be - wondering if your time has come.  My heart goes out to you.  Hope you are better.  You probably strained a lot of things involved in the coughing mechanism and it will take some days to get back to normal.

Thanks, Josh. Yep, almost back to normal... and you're right... there were quite a few scary moments. The heart attack wasn't all that scary, the cancer wasn't all that scary, but gulping for air? Now, that's scary. You know those dramatic movie scenes where disaster strikes and someone is yelling, "stay calm, stay calm?" It's a bit like that. There's an almost overwhelming desire to panic and you have to continually remind yourself to remain cool and focus on the business of stabilizing the situation.

Reminds me of a time when I was making a right hand turn at the roundabout. I had the right of way as a car approached from the opposite direction. But there was another car on the first car's inside. As the first car slowed to give way, the inside car came into view and saw my indicator. The learner driver (a young woman) panicked and raised both hands to her face, leaving the steering wheel unattended. Fortunately for her, I never take anything for granted and had not attempted to enter that space until I was sure it was safe. Meanwhile, the instructor made a grab for her wheel and took control. 

Yes, it's called defensive driving... always expect the unexpected. I bought an extra couple of bandage rolls the other day and put them in my first aid cupboard in PJ, just to be sure I have enough bandage to dress an entire limb in case of snake or spider bite. They used to recommend the ol' slice and suck trick for snake and spider bites but now they tell you to bandage the entire limb. Not sure how that would work if you were bitten on the bum hehe. But creepy crawlies usually go for the extremities.

There was another time I was tempted to panic. It was ages ago when I got caught in a rip at a surfing beach and felt myself being dragged out to sea. But I remembered the advice of lifesavers about not fighting the rip, but rather to swim diagonally across it until you reached calmer water. Then you could catch a wave back to shore. I was totally exhausted by the time I reached the beach but ever so grateful. It happened one time to young Josh too. But he panicked and struggled until he was too weak to swim another stroke. Then he floated on his back as the rip took him further out to sea. He was convinced he was a gonner but luckily a few mates noticed him missing and paddled out on their boards to rescue him. How's that for scary?

Well, goody goody gumdrops! My Nikon manual for the D3100 arrived and it's a ripper! Quite heavy with stiff cardboard cover and art-paper pages, but not too big... 6" x 7". It's called The Expanded Guide, and comprehensive it is, packed with photos and diagrams and a pullout card for instant explanation of all the buttons and dials. It covers basics through to advanced, so I'm a happy chappy. Jon Sparks is the author.

Incidentally, Mieke bubble-mailed a few good tips yesterday about night photography and the use of smaller apertures (higher F stops) for greater depth of field (focus). Takes a much slower shutter speed but worth it. She sent this link for tips on night photography. And this one about capturing lightning strikes.

Yesterday, I was thinking about what would have happened if my recent respiratory problems had been bad enough to send me to a nursing home. What would I do? Make the best of it, I suppose. Specialize in portraits of old wrinklies hehe. I do like portraiture though, but rarely get the opportunity to practice. Most peeps don't like posing or having a camera gawking at them. With a bit of luck, I might get a few guinea pigs on the Odyssey. I have to say that many professional portraits I see look kinda plastic, as if no attempt has been made to capture the essence of the person's character or personality - a twinkle in the eye or hint of a smile. Lighting and composition are all very well, but there also needs to be a strong communication between the subject and the lens. And THAT means a good relationship between subject and photographer. Others may disagree but what the hell.

It's that time of year, dear Breth. The renewal for motorhome insurance arrived this morning. Next will be car insurance (cos PJ is a slide-on and therefore separate) and rego inspection. Bills, bills, bills.

Well, the local council waste manager just wrote to say that old computer printers (did I tell you some mongrel dumped his trash in my bin after collection yesterday morning, including an old printer?) can be disposed of free at the local landfill facility "in the correct manor". Hehe. Oh well...

Yesterday, I made a smoothie with milk as usual just to test my theory about mucus, and the second glass produced an excess. So today I used coconut cream. Not sure about the mucus issue yet but I am about the taste. Mmmmm! It combines really well with the chocolate flavor of the Sustagen and the banana. Roite, so that'll be standard issue from here on. Hopefull, it's fattening as well. BTW, I slept 12 hours straight last night... out like a light.

From the Beeb: A magazine article about the future of Bill Gates and Microsoft.

In pictures: Sony World Photography Awards 2014 shortlist

The Panono camera ball takes 360 degree photographs when it is thrown in the air. The sphere is covered by 36 cameras which, once airborne, simultaneously capture individual images - these are then pieced together in the cloud to produce a 108 megapixel image which can be explored in any direction. BBC Click's Spencer Kelly reports.

The day hath flown, Ls & Gs, mainly cos I slept in till 8.30 this morning. I remember waking at 6 and thinking 'bugger it'. But that's okay - no appointments, no pressure, no stress. My doc arrives tomorrow morning though to check me out. He's been my doc for 12 years now, longest I've ever had the same doc.He's cut more skin cancers outta me than you can poke a stick at. He wouldn't touch my hernia though hehe. "She'll be roite, doc, no worries. Just whip out the ol' scalpel and Bob's yer uncle." But he went on about too many nerve endings or something and said it was a job for specialist. Before I was transferred from the hospital bed to the operating table in surgery, I remember the specialist introducing me to the bloke who would actually do the operation. "He's in his final year at university - almost a doctor." How inspiring.

Okies, time for a bit of telly and later something to stick to the bones. Hope you enjoyed the pic of the old B17s, Art. Gary

February 4, 2014. Missed my irrigation this morning - not enough energy to walk even half a block to the dental clinic. However, I slept pretty well and even managed to cough up bit of gunk this morning, which is welcome change. As NC Art wrote: All that glop sounds like a hot sinus to me, a chronic victim of similar dysfunction. Some 20 years ago I had a sub-mucus resection done to straighten out nasal blockage with mixed results. Now I can breathe better, but the mucus that drains to my throat is a bitch to ditch. Hope this finds you much better and ready to take on the bastards  from whatever direction.

TX Greg added: Amazing how germs can travel the globe faster than the internet. Sounds like you have the same thing that's been going around the states here. Everyone I know from one coast to the other has had it. Mine came on just before New Year's and I'm still not fully over it. It's not the flu like a ton of peeps are getting, but this is more like a chest cold with the coughing and like you said expelling the gunk! Wonder if we can blame Bill for this, hehe. Get to feeling better.

And this from OR Richie: Sorry you are feeling under the clouds and weather and I am all too familiar with the mucous monster problems.  It's really terrible and I have been through a lot of that, and still do for a while every morning.... which I take as a general respiratory hint of sorts...

Well, if it's a bug, I'm cool with that. Bugs can be treated. It happened suddenly the other day. I showered and shaved without incident, and everything was normal (given my condition) and then whammo, outta the blue came all this coughing and wheezing, leaving me exhausted. The slightest effort, such as walking around the house, or doing some minor chore, would have me gasping for breath.

I've reconsidered milk as the main culprit. A stubborn bit of mucus in the throat refused to be washed down last night (or coughed up) so I figured maybe fight fire with fire. Half a glass of chocolate milk sorted it out whereas water was simply repelled. If things become a bit desperate, Sue's folding walker is still here (with wheels, a seat and luggage basket) - I can use that if I need to for shopping. There's a folding wheelchair to boot.

However, I feel better today than yesterday so hopefully I'll recover soon. Better get some tucker into me as well. I've hardly eaten (?) anything in the last day or two.Yep, I have an Odyssey to do! Can't have all this respiratory shit getting in the way!

From the Beeb: The extent of corruption in Europe is "breathtaking" and it costs the EU economy at least 120bn euros (£99bn) annually, the European Commission says. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has presented a full report on the problem. She said the true cost of corruption was "probably much higher" than 120bn

Can couples really get stuck together during sex? It sounds like a scene from a trashy sex comedy. But stories of getting stuck during sex have been with us for centuries - and some of them might just be true. An emergency trip to hospital is never pleasant, but it's certainly not something you would want to happen after sex

Jaguar and Chrysler went head-to-head in the biggest advertising arena on the planet - the Super Bowl. But who came off best, asks Brian Wheeler. Everybody loves a villain. And the Jaguar F-Type ad has three of them - Sir Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston. The three actors are all British, of course. Because that's how Hollywood likes its bad guys - and that is also the riff that this advert plays on. Why are movie villains always British? Because they are evil geniuses, cool, commanding and super-suave. And they drive Jaguars.

Years ago, as a kid of about 11 or 12, I saw a most unusual car enter our street. I'd never seen anything like it before - very modern and expensive looking. It stopped and the driver got out to visit one of the houses on the other side. I seem to recall my mother telling me he was an insurance salesman. Apparently, this car didn't turn heads like it did mine, or do much to rejuvenate interest in the declining popularity of Hudson in its native country. I only ever saw one other Hudson in our street, and that was a mid to late 30s Terraplane. Funny name for a car, I thought, not realizing what terra meant.

My Red Bubble mate Mieke was readying the camera for an artistic shot of a rock on a deserted WA beach when her crazy dog Banjo decided to get in on the act - which turned out to be a wonderful classic!

Speaking of cameras, my remote shutter release arrived just now so I'll look forward to taking a few night shots when I get the opportunity. I Bubblemailed Mieke to ask about a rule of thumb that applies to how many seconds a shutter should remain open for night shots of the sky. Or maybe the camera will suggest something when I select Bulb. In any case, I have a Nikon user manual on its way. The one that came with the camera is Japanese, part of the reason I got the thing cheap. The new manual is written by a pro journalist and photographer from England so it should be pretty helpful. I also have a Nikon English manual on CD but I can't be bothered with all that pdf stuff. Gimme a book I can hold!

Here's one comment on a Nikon  forum: This is my first attempt at photographing stars. Here are my settings: 18mm, f/5.6, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 1600, tripod and remote shutter release. Turned out ok, but I need to work on focus! Me: I would imagine ISO 1600 is a bit grainy and that a lower ISO would be better, say 400 and a longer shutter speed. As to focus, I'd suggest manual focus on infinity. But what the hell would I know? Anyway, a remote shutter release is handy for long exposures (1/30 or more) such as dawn and evening shots with a tripod.

It's THAT time again, and I seem to be improving healthwise. Hopefully it was just a bug that came for a short visit. With a bit of luck, I'll be back to normal tomorrow! Gary

February 3, 2014. By midnight last night, the mucus business hadn't really subsided. I was still exhausted from all the coughing, throat-clearing and strenuous efforts to expel the gunk. I decided not to risk a train trip to Sydney let alone a long walk around Glebe. I could hardly stand for longer than a minute or two. I hit the sack wondering how on earth I would manage to sleep, but I did - waking frequently to clear the throat again. This morning I was still wobbly but less so, and improved marginally as the day wore on. It's late afternoon now and I just put the trash out which almost put me back to square one. Meanwhile, I'm steering clear of anything that might stimulate mucus, and the breathing is getting easier.

So there ya go, I missed my Glebe shoot, morning coffee with my ex-neighbor (who emailed to say the new owners of my old house have extended a permanent invitation to visit) and the appointment with the doc. Bummer! However, I have made an appointment with my local GP to visit me on Thursday during his rounds. I'm pretty sure I'll be okay till then. There were a few scary moments though, wondering if I should phone an ambulance.

Anyway, I'm still pretty knackered and really don't have the energy for Waffle, so I'll bid thee farewell for now and hope that I improve soon. Gary

February 2, 2014. FL Josh wrote in large caps, Stunning pictures of Lindsay. He's not one of my favorite people, for sure, but as a photographer I see things differently. The portrait is cool, I think... the lighting, the hair, the hat and the Roman nose. When I first met L, all his possessions were in plastic shopping bags, and his clothes were cheap T shirts, jeans and thongs. After a while, on his trips to England with Sue, he graduated to borrowing my bags. Now, all these years later, he's learned to save his money. He didn't have a bean to bless himself with in the early days. His carer took all his pension money for accommodation and meals, and handed him a few lousy dollars a week for personal things. That jacket cost him $400, the boots were $400 and the hat about $200. He also splurged on a proper suit case with wheels. He's never been so well off and independent. However, he doesn't see any correlation between that and my influence.

I used the little Fuji compact for the pics. In the first one, the camera was reading the background and side lighting, which made him too dark. So I took a reading to my left where the light was less strong, returned to him and took the pic. In the portrait, I stood back, zoomed in, and the camera took a reading of the light from his face. Perfect. In the old days, I used a light meter for tricky shots with high contrast. Now I use auto to lock-in exposure and wing it, knowing what I do about how a camera works.

TX Greg wrote to remind me that Cody's domain needs renewing, so that's organized for another 5 years. He also suggests that the disparity between my regular stats counter and Webalyzer is that the latter records clicks on pages, images, etc., as well as clicks on the URL. Hmmm, well 27K clicks in a month is a helluva lotta clicks no matter which way you look at it. Clicking on an image rather than the URL doesn't automatically bring a person into the site, but it could arouse curiosity, especially when I get serious about travelling Oz.

This is a BIG house ya know. This morning when I went for my traditional morning pee, all the doors to all the rooms were open on my way from one end of the house to the other. It's gonna be quite a different story in PJ. Yesterday, I spent a bit of time getting a relaxing dose of inner shedness, listening to music and rearranging a few things in cupboards. It was all rather pleasant. PJ might be small - ie. compact - but everything I need is there and all within arm's reach (or a quick trip outside). Come to think of it, outside is not a space I use much at this address. Apart from being a place to park PJ, it's a bloody nuisance with regular lawn mowing and weed spraying. I never use it for recreation.

Again, that'll be a different story on the Odyssey. Outdoors is what the Odyssey is all about. As the GNs call it - the playground. When I did the shakedown last October, I parked PJ without giving a thought to what the view would be from the awning side. Thilly me hehe. Next time, first consideration will be where's the best view? and then park accordingly. Also, back then, I didn't set up the awning till the final day. I was kinda confused about what the routine should be mainly because I parked too close to the bloke next door and setting up the awning would have encroached on his space. Oh dear... Who's the newbie?

When I see pics of caravans and motorhomes at open camp sites, they're parked at different angles. I wondered why at first, but now I realize they have different prorities. The more experienced don't park under gum trees (which have a propensity for losing limbs at short or no notice). Some park out in the open to allow full sun on their rooftop solar panels. Others have portable panels. Some seek the company of friends and/or neighbors while others prefer more privacy. Compared to the regimented parking at caravan parks, it all seems a bit iggly piggly and haphazard but there are good reasons for that.

From the Beeb:  Thousands of people across Australia have joined a protest calling for an end to a new law which allows sharks to be culled. The biggest gathering took place in Perth, Western Australia, where there have been seven fatal shark attacks in three years. The government says that the deaths have dented tourism, and that beach-goers must be protected. Lucas De Jong reports.

How's that for ironic? Every time there's a surfer or swimmer attacked by a shark, it makes the front page. Yet when an attempt is made to cull sharks, there's an outcry - the argument being that many species are endangered anyway, and they are a vital part of the ocean's eco system. Many protesters also believe that the sea is shark territory and if we wanna play in it, we take the risk. That's how Cody felt about sea creatures.

An avid motorcycle rider in the US state of Ohio has been buried with his Harley-Davidson in a transparent casket. Billy Standley was embalmed and laid to rest atop a 1977 Electra Glide cruiser in a Plexiglass casket.

It turns out that BBC Autos’ supercar of 2013 is not the novel chunk of whizz-bang machinery we once thought it was. A forbear from 1898, the Porsche P1, pioneered some of the very systems and concepts used to such devastating effect by the 918 Spyder. And by some measures, the 19th-century ancestor would have outperformed its overachieving descendant.

Bit of drama today with way too much mucus. Smoothies and other dairy foods promote lots of mucus but I think the problem was exacerbated by a couple of pills missing the hatch and partially dissolving in the mouth, allowing some of the fine powdery particles to lodge in the throat which caused irritation and a major coughing fit lasting 2 or 3 hours. On top of that, I became continually (and alarmingly) short of breath. Have you ever tried to cough and suck in air at the same time? Gets a bit tricky. On several occasions I had to sit, exhausted, and gulp big lungfuls of air to get myself stabilized. Then I'd cough up as much thick stringy mucus as I could, clearing the throat with as much force as possible, and blowing it out of the mouth into the sink. All very charming, of course. But the stuff is incredibly stubborn. Finally, I was able to nap for an hour and get back to normal. Whew! I'll stick to water when I take pills in future, and make sure they're all clear of the throat before I consume any dairy stuff. Anything powdery causes havoc.

The thing to remember in such situations is not to panic. Panic causes confusion and an inability to make rational decisions. During all that kerfuffle, my mind remained cool, even detached, as if it were another person such as a doctor giving me instructions on how to handle the problem. There were fleeting temptations to panic but I managed to reject them.

Anyway, at about 1am tonight, I'll drive to Taree station to board the 1.35am XPT to Sydney where I'll arrive at 6.52am and catch a tram to Glebe. I'm looking forward to my photo shoot around my old stomping grounds, some of which will have changed no doubt since I was there over 20 years ago. But most of it will be the same, retaining its 19th century heritage. The adjoining suburb, just a short stroll from my old house, is Forest Lodge. Forest? Not these days, mate. The forests disappeared a long, long time ago.

Watched an interesting interview last night with David Suzuki, the scientist and environmentalist. His parents escaped poverty in Japan by emmigrating to Canada where he was raised. He was the victim of racism and hated the way he looked. But he eventually found soul mates with the indigenous Canadians who, to his initial surprise, reminded him of the way he and his family looked. Then he realized their ancestors originally came from the orient. "You guys populated Japan and China!", he said. "No," they said, "it was the other way around. It was they who populated North America."

During high school, he managed to become school captain. He said there were the innies and the outies, of which he was one, and the outies were always wanting to be innies. Innies were the beautiful people, the sporting stars, the wealthy kids. But then he realized there were more outies than innies, so he rallied the support of the outies for his bid to become school captain and won easily. Hehe.

And there goes another Waffle. Not sure what I can write tomorrow. I won't be back till about 8pm. Maybe a few lines before I hit the sack. Gary

February 1, 2014. According to my stats counter, AO has had about 50000+ hits since it began back in 2008. But according to Webalyzer (a service provided by my ISP), AO has had far more than that.  In the graph, "Visits" are what counts. Visits represent people clicking on the URL. Hits could be anything, including robots. Check out the figures for the past 12 months. None of the links in the graphs are clickable, by the way, it's just a screen capture.

So why the discrepancy between my stats counter and the Webalyzer? Buggered if I know. But I do know which one I'd quote if I were looking for sponsorship hehe.

Meanwhile, according to NC Art, nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning: Ice floe is melting, sun is shining, my cable and internet went kerblooey … blessings are always mixed. Yah. Finally have both on again just now. Incidentally, don’t rush the days away; it is still 31 January here. And….I can save a bit of heating gas at 45 F. (I never learned that Kelvin or Centigrade language.)

It certainly does take a bit of getting used to, Art. We changed from F to C almost 45 years ago and I'm only just now becoming familiar with it. In the old days when the temperature hit the "ton" (100F), it sounded hot! 38C just doesn't have the same dramatic impact. Ditto with speed. Hitting the ton (100mph) had a more dramatic ring to it than whatever it is now in km/h. Moreover, I've never heard anyone refer to the male appendage in millimeters.

Lindsay's all excited about leaving for England today. His cab is due in about an hour to take him to Taree airport for the connecting flight to Sydney. Just think - no more flip flops through the house for the next 5 weeks. No more sniffles and farts. And for what remains of Sue, this will be her last flight home to Ye Olde from whence she roamed as a young adventurer.

I've met some pretty weird people in my time but L&S by far and away took the cake. Hehe. Both psychiatric patients, both alcoholics. I can't believe I've actually survived the past 15 years with those two. What a totally unexpected twist of fate that was. At least I've had a roof over my head and an income - coulda been worse, ya know.

On reflection, perhaps my fate isn't all that surprising after all. I've always been a tumbleweed. And now I'm on the verge of heading off again into the vast unknown, taking life as it comes with no particular destination in mind. Maybe I have gypsy blood.

Soooooo, how did the trifle go? Not bad. The plum pud is still a bit reticent to head south down the screech, and next time I'll go easier on the jam - one layer will do. Plum pud is too dense to soak up much sherry so a lighter cake is called for. The grated choc works well, and is easy to grate when chilled. I make enough for my current needs and put it in a small plastic bag in the fridge to sprinkle when required.

From the Beeb: A seldom-heard noise is emanating from a small cubicle at the far end of Press Room One at the Palace of Nations, the imposing home of the United Nations in Geneva. It's the sound of metal keys clattering against paper, punctuated frequently by the muted ping of a small steel bell. Gordon Martin, UN Correspondent for Vatican Radio, is writing his latest dispatch on the day's developments at the Geneva 2 peace talks on a 40-year-old Remington Performer manual typewriter.

The head of the Anglican Church in Uganda has given a critical response to a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York warning that gays and lesbians should not be victimised. Their letter was sent to all presiding archbishops of the Anglican Communion. It was also sent to the presidents of Uganda and Nigeria, which have recently introduced anti-gay legislation. Archbishop Stanley Ntagali responded that "homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture". There seem to be many interpretations of scripture, Stanley. Don't you find that odd?

When MTV launched in 1981, the first music video it played was "Video killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. The intent was clear; the channel was going to kill off old-fashioned radio. Down the years plenty of technologies have looked set to kill off radio: talking pictures, TV, the cassette tape, the CD, the iPod. Today it's streaming music services like Spotify. All have so far failed. Radio listening figures are holding up remarkably well given all the other sources of entertainment and information available. Radio is personal. When I was on air, I never said 'good morning everyone', just 'good morning'.

Here's a post by a GN asking another GN (who's a retired cop) a question about NSW police.

That's it for Feb the oneth and this edition of Waffle, folks. See you on the twoth. Gary


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